Experts Say Legal Immigrants Fearful To Sign Up For Federal Benefits

CHARLOTTE, NC.– Fallout from the Trump administration’s crackdown on immigration. Experts say immigrants are fearful they’ll get deported. Now some are not signing up for health care and other federal benefits.

Maria Gomez is a legal U.S. citizen, living in the Charlotte area for years.

“We’re just working families, we just want to make a living,” says Gomez.

She came from Mexico on a visa when she was 17. Later went through the process and received citizenship, but she still worries she could be deported.

“They’re deporting people whose been here for so many years, and people who has green cards and citizenship.”

Maria’s 15-year-old daughter was born here, and had been receiving Medicade benefits. Now, Maria is letting those benefits expire.

“The medical bills are really expensive for us, and I need glasses, and doctors appointments because everyone gets sick,” says Maria’s daughter Selena Moreno.

Attorney at Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy Louise Pocock says, “People are coming in, terminating benefits that their children are receiving, not renewing benefits, and just generally being wary.”

Pocock is an expert in public benefits law, she says many Hispanic immigrants do not want the government having their information.

“Even families who have  received benefits in the past and rationally understand that the law has not necessarily changed, but the fear over what the possibilities are that can be done with their families information,” Pocock says.

Louise says this could have a domino effect. She says charities and organizations that aren’t funded by the government will see more people asking for help.

“It’s a huge loss for hospitals. They’re not going to safety net programs. These kids are going to emergency rooms and hospitals are going to start losing money in un-reimbursed care.”

As for Maria, she wants people to know she’s proud to be an American citizen.

“We’re not doing anything that hurts the country. We helping to build a community,” says Gomez.