Legal US immigrants may be scared to sign up for benefits

The Trump administration's immigration crackdown may be leading to an unintended consequence: a drop-off in benefits enrollment among legal Hispanic immigrants, according to new research by Stanford Health Policy's Marcella Alsan.

This CBS News story about her work notes that an immigration program called Secure Communities, which was rolled out during the Obama administration, is linked to a lower take-up of benefits such as food stamps and health care enrollment.

In a new paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, Alsan and Crystal Yang of Harvard Law School found Hispanic households were particularly hard-hit, even those with legal immigration status.

"We find evidence that our results may be driven by deportation fear rather than lack of benefit information or stigma," the researchers wrote.  "Though not at personal risk of deportation, Hispanic citizens may fear their participation could expose non-citizens in their network to immigration authorities. We find significant declines in SNAP and ACA enrollment, particularly among mixed-citizenship status households and in areas where deportation fear is highest."

Read the CBS News story.