Bread for the World Joins Faith Communities’ Call for Solid Immigration Reform
Listen: The Link Between Migration and Poverty
Washington, DC, July 6, 2011
Bread for the World along with several other faith-based groups issued the following statement on immigration reform:
“In order to reform our dysfunctional immigration policy, we must acknowledge the links between poverty and inequality in Latin America and illegal or unauthorized immigration to the United States,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. “Effective reform of our immigration system must include working with migrant-sending countries to address the sources of unauthorized immigration.
Unauthorized immigration is an international phenomenon. There is no one-country solution. U.S. taxpayers spent $90 billion on border enforcement over the past 10 years, but there’s little evidence this investment has significantly reduced immigration.
The singular focus on the border has created an analytical and political stalemate. A more useful discussion of U.S. immigration policy should address the twin causes of unauthorized migration: first, poverty and inequality in Latin America, and second, the availability of jobs in the United States that Americans shun and that immigrants are eager to take on. The debate regarding more or less border enforcement is—at best—of secondary importance.
Reforms to the U.S. immigration system must include economic development in Latin America—particularly in rural Mexico and Central America. Relevant Latin American governments must also be part of this process. As a start toward integrating development and immigration policy, the U.S. development community should acknowledge the links between poverty and unauthorized migration and include the reduction of immigration pressures as part of its development agenda in these nations.
Currently, U.S. development policy in Mexico is overwhelmingly focused on police and military aid—not on poverty reduction that would reduce migration pressures.
There is no emphasis in our development agenda on reducing migration pressures in Mexico despite the fact that Mexico is the source of about 60 percent of all unauthorized immigrants to the United States. The Mexican government has been equally ineffective at creating the jobs its citizens need to rise out of poverty and build livelihoods at home. Up to half of rural Mexicans live in poverty and 25 percent live in extreme poverty, leading many small farmers to abandon the Mexican countryside to try and support their families in the United States.
The United States can begin to adopt a more international approach to immigration reform by tasking U.S. foreign assistance agencies working in migrant-sending regions to integrate analysis of migration into their development programs. Only by analyzing the immigration issue through an international development lens will we be able to address the primary reason people choose to migrate to places of better opportunity: poverty.”
Bread for the World is a collective Christian voice urging our nation's decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad.
Kristen Y. Archer, Acting Manager for Media Relations, 202-688-1118