Take Action

The Issue: New Rule cuts Eligibility for Food Assistance (SNAP)

REQUEST FOR ACTION: File a Public Comment with Department of Agriculture in Opposition to this Proposed Rule



Food assistance is at risk–again. Just months after Congress and the Administration debated and reauthorized SNAP through the Farm Bill, the Administration is now proposing to implement, through executive action, the kind of cut in SNAP benefits that Congress explicitly rejected.

Food insecurity is a serious problem in our wealthy country.  The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) was created to address the problem of hunger and poor nutrition by providing food benefits to low-income, eligible households. SNAP reaches a large share of low-income households. In 2018, a monthly average of 40.3 million persons in 20.1 million households participated in SNAP.

Federal SNAP law provides two basic pathways to the program: (1) meeting SNAP-specific federal eligibility requirements; or (2) being automatically or “categorically” eligible for SNAP based on receiving benefits from other low-income assistance programs, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).  Categorical Eligibility frees households who already meet financial eligibility rules in one low-income program from needing to go through another financial eligibility determination in SNAP.

Since the 1996 welfare reform law, states have had discretion to expand Categorical Eligibility beyond its traditional bounds. More than 40 states have used this flexibility to raise SNAP income eligibility and/or adopt less restrictive asset tests. This has allowed low-income working families facing high costs of housing or child care to qualify for SNAP, as well as permitting families, seniors, and people with disabilities to have modest savings without losing food assistance.

According to the Department of Agriculture, which administers the SNAP program, the new rule will remove approximately 9.0% of currently participating households from SNAP.  In 2020, an estimated 1.7 million households, containing 3.1 million individuals, will lose food assistance.  The impact will be particularly felt in households with elderly members, and by the working poor.

In addition to loss of direct food aid, the Department of Agriculture admits  that this rule will result in some 500,000 children losing access to free school meals.

Beyond removing people from SNAP, the rule will subject 17.2 million more households still eligible for SNAP to a more burdensome and expensive application process.

In the case of TANF-funded cash assistance, the proposed regulation requires that allmembers of the household must receive or be authorized to receive TANF assistance in order to receive SNAP. The assistance must be substantial and ongoing, which the proposed rule defines as a minimum value of $50 per month, (or a higher amount if the Secretary of Health and Human Services so decides) for a minimum of six months.  Such requirements will be a nightmare to administer.

The Department of Agriculture forecasts that denying people food aid under this rule over the next 5 years will reduce direct federal spending for SNAP benefits by $10.543 billion, but will also increase federal administrative costs of the program by  $1.157 billion, as well as increasing the administrative costs for the states of by another $1.157 billion.  In other words, this rule will cost our governments about $3 billion, just to achieve the questionable goal of depriving poor people of $10.5 billion worth of food.

Despite Congressional action in voting against such changes, the Department of Agriculture has chosen to make this extensive policy change by administrative rule-making.  Members of the public have the right to submit “comments” on any proposed rule change before it becomes effective.

Please write your own public comment opposing this rule change  (called “Revision of Categorical Eligibility in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)”) by going to the regulations website: https://www.regulations.gov/comment?D=FNS-2018-0037-0001
There you will be supplied with space to write your comments, the choice of how much you want to make public,  and the ability to submit with a click.

Submit your comments before the deadline of September 23, 2019.


The Issue: Dream and Promise Act 2019


The Dream and Promise Act 2019 is about to make its way to the House of Representatives for debate and vote.  We join the Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph with LCWR, the USCCB Justice for Immigrants Committee, and numerous other organizations in urging our legislators to support this bill.  The bill provides legal residency status for millions of young immigrants and residents of countries with temporary protected status (TPS). Please call or otherwise contact your Representatives in Congress and urge them to support the Dream and Promise act.

Current Activities Advocating on Behalf of Our Immigrant Sisters and Brothers

The CSJ Immigration Task Group continues to advocate and encourage others to contact their elected officials in Congress TODAY to support compassionate immigration policies and laws. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops support compassionate immigration policies for families. The U.S. Catholic Bishops have “urge courts and policy makers to respect and enhance, not erode, the potential of our asylum system to preserve and protect the right to life.”  And condemn the irreparable harm and trauma to young children, because “Families are the foundational element of our society and they must be able to stay together. While protecting our borders is important, we can and must do better as a government, and as a society, to find other ways to ensure that safety. Separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral.”

Take time this week to:

  1. Be Persistent and Call your elected officials! Contact Minnesota’s congressional representatives and contact them often. Keep telling them you support Immigrants and Refugees. Contact them EVERY DAY even if they already support this view.  Ask them to support welcoming and compassionate immigrant legislation, and to vote NO on any anti-immigrant legislation.
  2. Be a Voice for Justice! Speak up against laws and policies that negatively impact immigrants and refugees including actions separating families and negatively harming immigrant children. Write a letter to the editor and/or editorial for publication in any newspaper that prints an article about the family separation policy.  Seize every opportunity to have intentional conversations on these issues within your personal circles of family, friends and co-workers.  Be a witness at local vigils showing our support of immigrants and compassionate immigration policies.
  3. Be a Champion! Ask local corporations and companies, as well as the professional associations to which you belong, to stand up in vocal support of the Dream Act and legal protections for immigrant and refugee community members.
  4. Be a Supporter! Donate or volunteer for organizations directly serving and supporting immigrants and refugees, especially those working with the children separated by the government’s “zero tolerance policy.”
  5. Be Persistent! Finally, fatigue is not an option. Distraction is not an option. Now is our time to act. Now it is time to do something!
  6. And Vote!

(Suggestions adapted from John Keller, executive director of the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota (ILCM))

Past Actions

Some Resources on Dismantling Racism 


  • The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
    The CSJ Justice Commission read and discussed this book in 2017 and found it to be a compelling and very moving look at the lives of African-American teens and their families and at the issue of police shootings of unarmed Black men. Marketed as young adult fiction, The Hate U Give is a powerful story for all readers, and very engaging for book groups looking for a challenging discussion of contemporary issues. Read more at the author’s website or click here for more resources and a discussion guide.
  • Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson
    Mr. Stevenson’s writing brings readers with him to witness sorrowful injustices that continue to this day, along with stories of hope.  Click here to download a discussion guide.
  • Racial Justice and the Catholic Church, Fr. Bryan Massingale
    Fr. Massingale’s book, a loving, clear and tough look at the need for the Catholic Church to address racism, was written nearly a decade ago but the message still needs to be heard.  For a review, see here.
  • An American Marriage, Tayari Jones
    See review by Washington Post, which notes “The only thing more distressing than the size of America’s prison system is its racist function” and the effect it has on Democracy as voters are disenfranchised.


Stop Rule to Bar Immigrant Medicaid and SNAP Users from Legal Residency Status  

REQUEST FOR ACTION: File a public comment with Department of Homeland Security in opposition to this proposed rule


The President has proposed a devastating and unnecessary expansion of the definition of “public charge” to undermine the ability of immigrants who are in the country legally to apply for lawful permanent residency (green card). Under the proposed rule, any past, present or even potential future enrollment in Medicaid, food aid,  and/or housing assistance programs could prevent immigrants from changing their immigration status and/or attaining legal residency.

This proposed rule could force many to choose between vital health care coverage and the ability to get a green card, for example. The most recent study of the rule finds that it could adversely affect the health coverage of over 13 million legal immigrants in the first year, with many millions more to follow. That will lead to a significant increase in the number of uninsured and billions of dollars in uncompensated care costs for hospitals.

Additionally, the proposed rule would punish low-income legal immigrants and trap them into a cycle of poverty. The regulation would make immigrant families afraid to seek access to healthy food, health care, and housing. This fear would extend far beyond people who may be subject to the “public charge” test. It would harm entire communities as well as the infrastructure that serves all of us. The proposed rule change will also put the nutrition, health, and well-being of families, including millions of children, at risk. Because disease knows no borders, fear of using health care services could result increased risk of communicable diseases for everyone.

As people of faith we are called to stand with our immigrant brothers and sisters. The proposed rule changes longstanding policy and dramatically reduces the ability of our immigrants to become citizens and contributing members of our society.

In the absence of any Congressional action, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has chosen to make this extensive policy change by administrative rule-making.  Members of the public have the right to submit “comments” on any proposed rule change before it becomes effective.

Please write your own personalized public comment opposing this rule change (called “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds”) by going to the regulations website:

There you are supplied with space to write your comments, the choice of how much you want to make public,  and the ability to submit with a click.


Anti Human Trafficking Response to 2018 Super Bowl

Minnesotans can be proud of the thoughtful and diligent response of dedicated community members to support victims of human trafficking and raise awareness of the issue during the 2018 Super Bowl. The CSJ Anti Human Trafficking Working Group (AHTWG) began working on a response plan in spring 2016. A large focus of the work has been preparing for an emergency shelter for trafficked victims in partnership with Breaking Free, an agency AHTWG has been collaborating with since 2002. The very active sisters, consociates, laywomen, St. Kate’s students & alumnae, and sisters from several religious communities: O.P., OSB, Congregation of CSJ’s, OSF, and SSND have formed a community of giving by collecting items to stock an emergency shelter in the Twin Cities. The group is pleased to report that the cash donations, gift cards, clothing, bedding, air mattresses, ear warmers, etc. will be used during the Super Bowl and beyond to support the needs of the victims Minnesota agencies serve every day of the year.

Although some members of the working group are prepared to help where needed up to the 10 days prior to the Super Bowl, we also encourage your prayers for all victims of human trafficking during this time and beyond the Super Bowl.


Thank You for Advocating for CHIP

Thank you to everyone that advocated for Federal money for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Congress approved on Monday, January 22, a six year extension of the program. State funding for these children exists from other sources but they are insufficient to provide coverage alone to the approximately 125,000 children in Minnesota. Thank you for advocating with your members of Congress.


Continue Advocating for DACA Youth

Continue to contact your elected officials in Congress TODAY asking for their support for DACA youth and to pass clean DREAM Act bi-partisan legislation. There are many ways to get involved and one simply way is to take action NOW with NETWORK, Advocates for Justice inspired by Catholic Sisters http://act.networklobby.org/p/dia/action4/common/public/?action_KEY=23258  or get involved with the CSJ Immigration Task Group.


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