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Emerging Problems with Immigrants' Access to Food from Private Charities

By Susan Reed

Because many noncitizens are ineligible for government-funded nutrition programs, private charities often step in to help. However, several obstacles have arisen to food banks’ and other private entities’ provision of assistance to noncitizens. Requiring evidence of denial of help from government agencies can preclude any help for immigrants who fear contact with government actors, as can requiring government-issued photo identification that immigrants are unable to obtain. Some charities fear charges of “harboring” unauthorized immigrants to whom they provide help, although a recent decision from the Seventh Circuit should help assuage such concerns.

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