Pushing Immigration Reform Into the 21st Century
Santiago Cruz, in the Mexico countryside, December 12, 2010. (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)
In the short documentary Stay, Santiago Cruz and his wife, Victoria, talk about being pushed into a difficult decision: continue to languish in deep poverty or migrate.
Deciding to escape hunger and poverty is not difficult, but the price is often painful. Santiago left Victoria
and his children behind in Oaxaca, Mexico, and faced the uncertainty and peril of migration—their only hope for a better life. Most undocumented immigrants live precarious and vulnerable
Bread for the World's 2013 Offering of Letters aims for the political will to ensure a place at the table for all God's children. This mandate provides important guidance about immigration. As the Senate debates, and perhaps votes, on comprehensive immigration reform this week (S 744), we see an opportunity to alleviate hunger, both in this country and abroad.
Simply put, immigration is a hunger issue. And hunger is an immigration issue.
Half of all laborers harvesting U.S. crops are undocumented; they are often exploited and face some of the highest rates of poverty in the United States—as much as 35 percent, far above the national rate. It is important to remember that these are working individuals who contribute to the economy of this nation. Immigration reform should provide a path to citizenship for these individuals, and it should allow their families to access programs like SNAP and EITC.
The current system, which perpetuates hunger here and abroad can, and must, change.
A holistic approach to immigration would also alleviate the poverty abroad that pushes families like Santiago’s to choose migration. The Senate debate and bill have thus far failed to consider why people leave their homelands. Fewer people will feel compelled to migrate if poverty were reduced in their home countries.
Santiago was eventually able to return and stay in Oaxaca after he and Victoria were given a hand up by a Mexican nonprofit partnered with Catholic Relief Services. CEDICAM helped them with sustainable farming techniques, which provided enough food and money for them to stay together.
Bread for the World Institute has extensively researched the
relationship between poverty and immigration, and we will urge Congress to craft
legislation that reforms our immigration system in ways that help end
Watch the award winning documentary Stay on YouTube and share it with your friends.
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