Immigration Reform

Bread for the World believes immigration is a hunger issue. Migrants leave their home countries to escape deep hunger and poverty, but many remain at high risk of hunger and poverty once they arrive in the United States due to our broken immigration system.

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

Studies indicate 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

The push factors of migration and why immigrants face poverty in the U.S.

People who make the decision to leave home and come to the United States generally have few other options. Central America’s “Northern Triangle” countries—Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras—are among the poorest in the world, with very high levels of hunger and malnutrition. Nearly half of Guatemala’s children are chronically malnourished, along with nearly 20 percent of children in Honduras and El Salvador.

Once here, Central American immigrants generally want to work and contribute, but may become isolated by a combination of factors, such as poverty, limited English proficiency, and discrimination. In fact, undocumented immigrants suffer disproportionately from food insecurity. 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 they have limited access to the social safety net in the United States.

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.

Guatemalan children. Photo by Joseph Molieri / 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, with a pathway to citizenship, would help them escape hunger.

We advocate for legislation that ensures a place at the table for everyone in the U.S., regardless of legal status. And we anticipate that hundreds of thousands of people would move out of hunger and poverty almost immediately if they were given a pathway to citizenship.

Bread for the World adds specific value to the immigration reform discussion by focusing on its root causes: hunger and poverty in home countries. We believe any comprehensive immigration reform policy must include poverty-focused assistance to address the root causes of migration.

Bread is working to end hunger in the U.S. and around the world. This can be accomplished by comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S. that includes a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented and poverty-focused development assistance to address the root causes of migration from Central America.

from our Resource Library

For Education

  • Election Resources

    One of the best times to raise the issues of hunger and poverty is during election campaigns. Engage candidates in your state/district on hunger and poverty using our elections resources.
  • Racially Equitable Responses to Hunger During COVID-19 and Beyond

    By Marlysa D. Gamblin and Kathleen King

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as when a person or household does not have regular, reliable access to the foods needed for good health. Black, Indigenous, and Other People of Color (BIPOC) have historically had higher...

  • Fact Sheet: COVID-19 Global Pandemic, Better Nutrition Protects Lives

    With the coronavirus now spreading in low-resource contexts and new waves of infection expected in the coming year, better nutrition for vulnerable people is more important than ever.

For Faith

  • Finding Hope, Ending Hunger on Both Sides of the Border: A Bilingual Latino Devotional

    Devotional writers challenge us to feel the Spirit of God within us and to hear God’s urgent call to demand justice so all can put food on the table.
  • The Bible on Health as a Hunger Issue

    “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in faith.” These words from Colossians 2:6 remind us of the faith that is active in love for our neighbors.

    The Bible on...

  • 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...

For Advocacy


African at Heart

November 22, 2019


From the Blog