Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

Immigration Reform and Hunger

Bread for the World views global progress against poverty as an exodus from hunger. International migration is part of this exodus—as people move across national borders to escape poverty and improve their livelihoods.

Since at least the 1840s, when the Irish potato famine killed 1 million people and drove 2 million overseas, poverty and hunger have been major causes of immigration to the United States.

Once in the United States, immigrants typically improve their economic condition, but their legal status means they are blocked from realizing their economic potential and making full contributions to the U.S. economy.

Today, approximately 40 million immigrants live in the United States—13 percent of the population. About one-fourth of all immigrants to the U.S.—about 11 million people—are unauthorized.

Bread for the World firmly believes that immigration reform will reduce poverty and hunger:

  • About one-third of unauthorized immigrants live in poverty. Their lack of legal status contributes to their economic insecurity. The poverty rate for the children of Latin American immigrants, most of whom are U.S. citizens, is even higher—more than 40 percent in 2010.
  • Legalization of unauthorized immigrants in the United States will reduce poverty by giving immigrants access to additional education and employment opportunities. Research shows that legalization and citizenship can increase immigrants’ earnings by 6 to 13 percent, with some researchers finding even larger increases in income.
  • A path to citizenship will also contribute to national economic growth. Studies show immigration grows the economy, reduces the national debt, and can even create jobs for natives. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that immigration reform would reduce the federal budget deficit by $158 billion. Research also shows that it will expand the U.S. economy by more than 5 percent over 20 years.

“Welcoming the stranger” is a Biblical mandate. As Christians, we are concerned with the “sojourners” in our midst. The Hebrew word for immigrant—ger—appears 92 times in the Bible. The are many examples of the Bible’s concern for immigrants, including:

“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Leviticus 19:33-34).


Featured Resources:

Fact Sheet: Why Children are Fleeing Central America

Immigration, Hunger, and Opportunity: Bread for the World and Immigration Reform

Inmigración, hambre y oportunidad: Pan para el Mundo y la reforma migratoria


Contact Us:

To find out more about our work, contact Andrew Wainer, Senior Immigration Policy Analyst at 202-688-1074.

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Take Action: The Time for Immigration Reform is Now

Take Action: The Time for Reform is Now

Support reforms that address the root causes of undocumented immigration and the hunger experienced by undocumented individuals.

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Immigrants in the United States

Immigrants typically increase their earnings over time, but unauthorized immigrants are barred from career and educational opportunities.

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Unauthorized Immigration

Latin America is the source of more than half of all immigrants to the United States and 81 percent of all unauthorized immigrants.

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The Need for Reform

To stem the flow of unauthorized immigrants, immigration policy must address poverty, which drives immigration from Latin America.

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Child Hunger Chart / by Doug Puller

Research Papers

Our research papers explore everything from hunger and poverty among immigrant families to development and migration.

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Video Series on Immigration

View our videos detailing issues related to immigration, hunger, and poverty.

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