H.R. 4670 does little to help Dreamers or to alleviate hunger

We urge Congress to embrace smarter immigration and border enforcement policy. Photo: Jeffrey Austin

By Marlysa D. Gamblin

The Securing America’s Future Act (H.R. 4670) was introduced as a way to “fix our broken immigration system.” However, this bill would transform our immigration system in ways that would increase hunger and do little to reduce factors that push people to migrate.

As Bread for the World has said in the past, any attempt to fix immigration must address hunger on both sides of the border—including international push factors. Otherwise, we risk ignoring the root causes of our “broken system” altogether. This legislation would increase hunger in many ways, in part because the bill:

  1. Does not provide a permanent solution for Dreamers. The legislation allows Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients to receive a 3-year renewable legal status—not permanent U.S. citizenship. Unfortunately, this only temporarily protects 800,000 out of 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. In addition, it requires Dreamers to maintain earning levels of at least 125 percent of the federal poverty line to stay in the United States. These provisions place them in a constant state of uncertainty, especially if they were to lose a job or unable to find a job that meet these requirements. On top of that, not receiving citizenship also prevents them from having vital supports, including unemployment insurance to keep them at this earning level if they were to lose a job.  
  2. Separates families by ignoring the parents. At Bread, we have affirmed the importance of family unity and improved access to legal pathways to citizenship. Since this bill does little to protect parents, at least 4.5 million American children would be at risk of having their parents deported—directly increasing their likelihood of experiencing hunger.
  3. Diminishes humanitarian protections for asylum seekers. Research that shows 80 percent of women coming from Central America should receive asylum status based on “a credible fear of persecution or torture,” but are refused it. This bill makes it even harder for women and unaccompanied minor children who are leaving extreme violence and poverty from obtaining the proper status—instead resulting in their detention and deportation to countries with extreme levels of food-insecurity. This is another reason why addressing root causes of forced migration is so critical to resolving immigration.
  4. Focuses disproportionately on increasing expensive border security measures instead of addressing root causes of migration. There is mixed evidence that increased border security would reduce forced migration. However, there is significant evidence that migration to the United States is largely due to push factors, including extreme hunger, poverty, and violence causing people to flee their home countries. Yet, we continue to focus our efforts on solutions that won’t yield the same results to reduce illegal migration. Border patrol funding is already 17 times the amount of aid to Central America. This bill proposes increasing border funding by $30 billion. When instead, we could prioritize funding to address factors in Central America that push people to flee to the United States.

Marlysa D. Gamblin is the domestic advisor for policy and programs for specific populations at Bread for the World Institute.

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