Undocumented seniors face unique challenges, including lack of access to social safety programs like SNAP and Medicare

As Illinois’s immigrant population ages, researchers are projecting that the number of undocumented seniors living in the state will reach 55,000 by the end of the decade. However, without legal authorization to live in the U.S., these residents can’t tap into crucial social safety programs that many seniors depend on, such as SNAP, Medicare, and public housing. Injustice Watch and The Chicago Tribune followed one undocumented couple who are beginning to confront some of the mounting challenges that many in similar circumstances face: High costs of living, anxiety about legal status, and health conditions that could put their livelihood at risk. In addition to their own expenses, the couple also support grandchildren in their home country of Mexico—all on a single income source. The family’s breadwinner works at a meatpacking plant, where he fears getting laid off due to back issues: “I don’t have the same strength or energy as I once did,” he said. —Jessica Fu