Trump Budget Would Devastate Southern Communities

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(Special from Facing South) — Last month, the Trump administration released its comprehensive budget proposal, optimistically titled “A New Foundation for American Greatness.” The budget was immediately condemned by Southern politicians in both parties, as well as advocates for the poor, immigrants, and other vulnerable populations in the South.

“Vast proposed cuts to federal housing programs couple with a wholesale ripping of the social safety net for the most vulnerable,” wrote Moises Loza, executive director of the Housing Assistance Council, a national nonprofit. “The budget strikes particularly at tribal and rural communities. Many of these communities, in decline for decades, are now awash in a national opioid crisis and are far-removed from Wall Street’s economic recovery.”

Southern communities where poverty rates and food insecurity are high and employment opportunities are scarce would feel the cuts particularly hard. The proposal slashes SNAP, the federal food stamp program in which over 16 million Southerners are currently enrolled, by $190 billion — nearly half of the program’s funding. It redirects over $4.5 billion in funding to immigration enforcement, including increases in detentions and deportations. At the same time, it adds $469 billion to the defense budget over the next 10 years.

Implications for immigrants

The South is home to over 12 million immigrants who live in cities and rural areas across the region. Although undocumented and even some documented immigrants do not qualify for the most common American safety net programs, the Trump budget specifically singles out immigrants for “rely[ing] on Government benefits financed by taxpayers.” The budget uses this language to justify drastic increases in funding for immigrant detention and deportation. It also proposes cuts to several other programs that will impact immigrant communities as well as other vulnerable populations:

• WIC, the food assistance program specifically for women, infants, and children, would be cut by over $1 billion under the budget proposal. This is the only federal supplemental nutrition program for which “not-qualified” immigrants — those who are not lawful permanent residents, refugees, victims of abuse or trafficking, or Cuban or Haitian — are able to qualify.

• Emergency Medicaid, the only Medicaid service available to “not-qualified” immigrants, would lose huge portions of its funding under the proposed $600 billion cuts to Medicaid over the next 10 years.

• The Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, refundable tax credits that are targeted at the working poor, would require a Social Security number to qualify. This is an explicit effort by the Trump administration to keep undocumented immigrants and immigrants who are not qualified to work in the United States from benefiting from these programs. In addition to these eligibility restrictions, the budget also reduces funding for both the EITC and the CTC.

Read more here.