Immigration Reform

Bread for the World sees global progress against poverty as progress against hunger as well. One of the major reasons people leave their home countries is to escape poverty and improve their livelihoods.

While reducing poverty may not be the primary goal of most contemporary immigration policy-reform efforts, it should certainly be one of its clear goals.

Studies consistently indicate that immigration contributes to U.S. economic growth and higher incomes for most Americans, including those born here.

Santiago Cruz, a farmer in Oaxaca, Mexico. Photo: Laura Pohl / Bread for the World

Immigrants face poverty in the United States

Unauthorized immigrants suffer disproportionately from food insecurity and poverty once they arrive in the United States. This is true even though they earn more money here than in their home countries. No group of immigrants is more harmed by hunger and poverty than those without documentation. Lack of legal status contributes to their economic insecurity and exploitation. It also means that they have limited access to the social safety net in the United States.

Thirty-four percent of U.S.-born children of unauthorized immigrant adults live in poverty. This is almost double the 18 percent rate for the children of U.S.-born adults.

Poverty persists among undocumented immigrants even though they participate in the workforce at higher rates than either citizens or documented immigrants. Our economy depends upon the hard work of undocumented immigrants, but does not adequately compensate them. According to the Department of Labor, at least half of all farm workers in the United States are undocumented.

Photo: Bread for the World

Why Bread supports immigration reform

Bread supports immigration reform because a substantial percentage of undocumented immigrants in the United States live in poverty and because comprehensive immigration reform would help them escape hunger. We advocate for legislation that ensures a place at the table for everyone in the United States, regardless of legal status. And we anticipate that hundreds of thousands of people would be moved out of hunger and poverty almost immediately if they are given a pathway to citizenship.

Immigration reform also fits Bread’s international agenda. We add specific value to the immigration reform discussion by focusing on its root causes: hunger and poverty in home countries. Our longstanding advocacy for poverty-focused development assistance is one way that we help moderate the flow of immigrants to the United States. In fact, international development was an important part of the last major immigration reform — during the Reagan administration. Policy makers recognized that they could reduce the flow of immigrants and increase political stability and expand markets for U.S. exports if they invested in the countries from which immigrants were coming.

Bread supports efforts that reduce hunger in the United States and abroad. This can be accomplished by comprehensive immigration reform in the United States while providing development assistance to countries with high poverty rates.

from our Resource Library

For Education

For Faith

  • Unity Declaration on Racism and Poverty

    A diverse body of Christian leaders calls on the churches and Congress to focus on the integral connection.

    Dear Members of Congress,

    As the president and Congress are preparing their plans for this year, almost 100 church leaders—from all the families of U.S. Christianity—are...

  • In Times Like These … A Pan-African Christian Devotional for Public Policy Engagement

    This devotional guide invites deepened relationship with and among Pan-Af­rican people and elected leaders in the mission to end hunger and poverty.

  • Sermon by David Beckmann at Duke University Chapel

    Remarks delivered October 1, 2017 at Duke University Chapel in Chapel Hill in North Carolina.

    Thank you for inviting me to preach here at Duke University Chapel. And I especially want to thank the Bread for the World members who have come this morning.

    Bruce Puckett urged...

For Advocacy

  • U.S. Hunger and Poverty State Fact Sheets

    These fact sheets provide a snapshot of hunger and poverty in the United States and in each state plus Washington, D.C. 

  • Fact Sheet: Hunger by the Numbers

    In 2017, 11.8 percent of households in the U.S.—40 million people—were food-insecure, meaning that they were unsure at some point during the year about how they would provide for their next meal.

  • Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2017

    Unnecessarily long prison sentences, combined with the lack of rehabilitative programs for people in prison, exacerbate hunger, poverty, and existing inequalities.

    Overly harsh mandatory minimum prison sentences have contributed to the rapid increase of our country’s prison population. The...


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