Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

83 posts categorized "Immigration"

Colorado Pastors Changing Immigration Dialogue

By Michelle Warren

Fear. Courage. Restoration.

For the past several years, pastors and ministry leaders in Colorado have been working to change the dialogue about immigrants in our state. Those of us who live and worship alongside immigrants realized that it wasn't enough for us to know about the pain inflicted by the broken immigration system. We needed to actually do something with what we knew. Doing something was not a choice but rather an opportunity to lead. IMG_1181

Public-policy issues share some basic similarities: a problem that needs fixing with an appropriate solution and leaders willing to implement the solution. Immigration reform is a political hot button. Fixing a broken immigration system needs leaders who are willing to lead, regardless of constituents' criticism.

As a seasoned organizer, I regularly call both elected officials and pastors to act on their moral courage and lead on difficult — even polarizing — issues. I meet with political leaders who tell me behind closed doors that they are "with me" on issues but who subsequently fail to act because they are afraid of backlash from their constituents. I meet with pastors who understand what the Bible has to say about injustice but avoid initiating conversations with their congregations for fear of being viewed as too political. Both are leaders in their communities; both wrestle with fears of backlash from those they serve. 

Fear is a trap, keeping us in a broken place. When leaders allow fear to keep them from leading, they not only miss an opportunity to help release people from broken systems, but they also miss an opportunity to be a part of the restoration process.

Last summer, I had the privilege to work alongside a group of pastors who decided to do a city-wide sermon series on God's heart for the immigrant. They all recognized that their congregations needed to look at the issue of immigration through a biblical lens, and as leaders, that it was their responsibility to share this message. 

Right before the sermon series started, election politics were gearing up. Colorado, where the pastors served, was one of the most-watched states for an election upset. The media was brutal. As the primaries across the country ended — with unanticipated and highly reactive results — a story broke about thousands of unaccompanied minors coming across our borders.  National headlines around immigration were politically toxic, not just for politicians but anyone brave enough to engage in the dialogue.

This group of pastors leaned in and led.

As anyone in leadership knows, criticism makes leading more about decisive courage and less about how you personally feel. All of these pastors were put to the test, but their willingness to lead despite fear gave voice to timeless truth and the urgency for change. Dr. John Perkins, founder of the Christian Community Development Association, has said, "Courage is not the absence of fear. It is living one's conviction in the face of fear."

In my work, whether with politicians or Christian leaders, fear can be a driving force. Often we are tempted to back out. However, when leaders decide to take courage in the face of fear, our communities are stronger for it.

These pastors are examples of acting with courage and leading their communities toward restoration.

Michelle Warren is the director of advocacy and policy engagement for the Chicago-based Christian Community Development Association.

Photo inset courtesy of Michelle Warren.

Policymakers Should Study Existing Models to Develop Migration Strategy

Guatemalans begin heading home after a Sunday evening mass. Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World. 

By Andrew Wainer

Bread for the World pushed hard in 2014 for Congress to address hunger, poverty, and violence in Central America - factors that drove the spike in child migrants to the United States earlier this year. Congress finally listened and tucked $130 million for a basket of poverty-reduction programs into the $1.01 trillion spending bill it passed in December.

In addition to the funding, the spending bill calls for “a strategy to address the key factors…contributing to the migration of unaccompanied, undocumented minors to the United States…Such strategy shall include a clear mission statement, achievable goals and objectives, benchmarks, timelines, and a spending plan.”

In simple terms, Congress looks like it is getting serious about addressing the root causes of immigration in terms of funding, research, and analysis. But much will depend on how the new funding is implemented. The U.S. Department of State and USAID will be responsible for implementing the migration and development strategy. However, there are few details right now on how the strategy will be developed, where the funding is coming from, and how it will be used.

The needs of the region are great. Violence is endemic in the Northern Triangle nations of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, where much of the recent unauthorized immigration has originated. Inequality is rampant, and, in some cases, more than half of the population of these countries lives in poverty.

But there are innovative pilot programs and models that should be considered as part of the migration and development strategy. Although a small agency, the Inter-American Foundation is a pioneer in implementing development programs in Central America that include evaluating their impact on deterring undocumented immigration. 

There are also partnerships including philanthropic organizations like the Ford Foundation that have worked with towns in El Salvador, the Salvadoran diaspora in the United States, and Salvadoran municipalities to create livelihoods for women and mothers left behind by husbands who have migrated to the United States.  

The Millennium Challenge Corporation has the potential to play a major role in reforming development policy in Central America. With investments of hundreds of millions of dollars in El Salvador and the approval of new grant money in Guatemala, any development strategy targeting migration in Central America should include the MCC in a central role.

Bread for the World will continue to watch developments on this front. And when needed, we will mobilize to ensure that Congress lives up to its commitment of addressing the migration issue in the United States.

Andrew Wainer is a senior immigration policy analyst at Bread for the World Institute.






More Action Needed to Fully Reform US Immigration System

A migrant worker picks tomatoes on David Mann's farm in Fort Blackmore, Va. Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World

By Jacob Chew

The House of Representatives last week passed the Executive Amnesty Prevention Act (H.R.5759). The law seeks to block President Barack Obama’s recent immigration executive action that provides temporary relief from deportation to more than four million undocumented immigrants in the United States. Under the legislation, the executive branch would not have the authority to exempt undocumented persons from deportation or grant them legal status.

The vote is largely a symbolic protest since the Democratic-controlled Senate won’t bring the legislation to the floor.

Congress’ latest action to curtail the president’s executive action is regrettable. Bread for the World’s support of the president’s action is not about partisan politics. Rather, it’s about the millions of families who will have some respite from worry and have access to new opportunities to work their way out of poverty. The executive action also offers improvements to our harsh and out-of-date immigration system, and is a compassionate response consistent with our Christian faith which calls us to welcome immigrants and treat them with dignity.

Rather than threaten to reverse such potential gains, Congress should take immediate action to pass bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform legislation that would improve our current system, strengthen our economy, and keep families together.

Learn more about Bread’s work on immigration. And urge your members of Congress to pass legislation that addresses the root causes of hunger, poverty, and violence that are driving unaccompanied children to flee their home countries.

Jacob Chew is a fall intern in the government relations department at Bread for the World.

What We Are Thankful For

(Bread for the World)

By Rev. David Beckmann

We have a lot to be thankful for this year at Bread for the World, and you're at the top of the list. I thank God for you.

Here are just a few examples of the incredible work you have helped accomplish this year:

We won reforms that have allowed U.S. food assistance to reach 1.5 million more hungry people. Humanitarian crises in South Sudan and Syria along with the terrifying spread of Ebola in West Africa have dramatically increased the need for food aid, so our successful campaign to increase the reach of U.S. food aid could not have come at a more critical time.

As unaccompanied children crossed the U.S. border, fleeing violence at home and often deplorable treatment in detention centers, you opened your heart. You sent more than 10,000 personalized emails to your members of Congress urging them to protect these vulnerable children while addressing the root causes of their plight in the long term. A bill has been introduced into the House (H.R. 5368) to address these concerns.

On Monday, Bread for the World Institute launched its 2015 Hunger Report: When Women Flourish ... We Can End Hunger. Because of their leading role in farming, caregiving, and child nutrition, women are the primary agents the world relies on to fight hunger.  Your support makes this research and analysis possible.

And in June, we celebrated 40 years of your faithful advocacy and victories from earlier decades. We also launched Bread Rising: A Campaign to End Hunger, the most ambitious campaign in Bread's history. More to come on this campaign in the new year.

Through your dedication and through God's amazing work, we have accomplished so much. But our work isn't finished yet. As you gather around your Thanksgiving table, I ask you to pray for people who are hungry. And to pray harder for our nation and our leaders — that we might realize the political will to end hunger.

Are you asking yourself, "What more can I do?" If you have just five minutes, please help with this urgent opportunity to make a difference for people who are hungry around the world right now: email your members of Congress, and urge them to co-sponsor the Global Food Security Act (H.R. 5656 and S. 2909), which will boost agricultural development and address malnutrition. It passed out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week and will be voted upon next in the full House.

Rev. David Beckmann is the president of Bread for the World.

A Reflection on the Executive Action Taken by President Obama

Ricardo and the Bishop
Pictured from left to right: Rev. Ricardo Moreno, associate for Latino outreach at Bread for the World, Bishop José García, director of church relations at Bread for the World, and Pablo Chavez, son of the farm-worker advocate, Cesar Chavez. (photo courtesy of Ricardo Moreno)

By Bishop José García

Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker, but those who are kind to the needy honor him: Proverbs 14:31

Bishop and Dolores
On Friday, November 21 at Del Sol High School in Henderson, Nev., I heard President Barack Obama share his executive action with a very enthusiastic crowd. The action will temporarily stop deportations and keep families together. I was able to enjoy the excitement experienced by the many men and women who have been champions in advocating for a fair immigration reform in our country. I met with Dolores Huerta, who together with Cesar Chavez, fought hard for the rights of farm workers; Pablo, Chavez's son; Eliseo Medina, who fasted for 30 days in front of the Capitol calling on Congress to enact a fair immigration reform; Gaby Pacheco, the young woman who became a voice and a face for the "DREAMers"; Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition; Bill Richardson, former New Mexico governor; Rev. Ricardo Moreno, associate for Latino outreach at Bread for the World and Rev. L.B. Jackson, among many others. It was a great day in America.

It brings me great joy to know that as a result of the executive action, roughly one million of the five million who will benefit from the president's action will be able to overcome the struggle of food insecurity and that experiencing hunger may no longer be a part of their lives. Now they will have the opportunity of getting better jobs, higher wages, and other opportunities inaccessible to them before because of their migratory status.

This is Divine Justice because it responds to the biblical mandate to care and provide for people who are the poor among us. In doing so, God is honored because God cares about people who are poor as they are close to his heart. There are more than 200 biblical references dealing with the treatment of people who are poor. Some of these Scriptures talk about the blessings for those who help, as well as the consequences for those who oppress people who are poor. Throughout the ages, God has used kings and government officials as instruments for divine purposes. In my mind there is no doubt that God's sovereignty moved the president to order his executive action. In doing so, he has brought about justice to the many hard working parents who have lived in fear of being separated from their children.

Let us pray for God to move the minds and hearts of our government officials so they can do what is right for people who are marginalized in our country. However, let us also act and exercise the responsibilities of our democracy by calling, writing, and advocating before Congress to enact a fair immigration reform, for in doing so, they will honor God.

Learn more about the connection between hunger and immigration here. And urge your members of Congress to pass legislation that addresses the root causes of hunger, poverty, and violence that are driving unaccompanied children to flee their home countries.

José García is the director of church relations at Bread for the World.

Inset photo:  Dolores Huerta and Bishop José García in Las Vegas, Nevada. (photo courtesy of José García)

Orden Ejecutiva Sobre Inmigracion Proporciona Alivio

(Bread for the World)

By Bread Staff

La siguiente declaración fue emitida a la prensa esta mañana:

Rev. David Beckmann, presidente de Pan para el Mundo, emitió esta declaración acerca de la orden ejecutiva que firmo Presidente Obama que proporcionará alivio del riesgo de deportación a cuatro millones de inmigrantes indocumentados:

"Aplaudimos la decisión de presidente Obama de usar su autoridad para mejorar nuestro sistema confuso e innecesariamente duro de inmigración.

"La acción del presidente es controvertida y tiene implicaciones importantes para nuestros partidos políticos. Queremos reconocer a los líderes republicanos en el Congreso que están tratando de responder de una manera que no interrumpa el proceso de asignación de este año.

"Nuestro apoyo de la acción del presidente no es acerca de la política partidista. Se trata de millones de familias que tendrán un alivio de las preocupaciones y las nuevas oportunidades para trabajar y salirse de la pobreza. Se trata de nuestra fe; la Biblia es clara acerca de cómo debemos tratar a los inmigrantes.   Es una pieza de nuestro compromiso de traer oportunidad a todas las personas.

"Nuestra investigación demuestra los beneficios para los Estados Unidos que la inmigración ofrece. Nuestras investigaciones recientes en el “Rust Belt” y en Miami muestran como la inmigración está revitalizando diferentes vecindarios.

"La orden ejecutiva es un paso monumental en la dirección correcta, pero necesitamos una legislación permanente. Todavía esperamos que el Congreso reforme la ley de inmigración. Por ejemplo, el Congreso debe actuar con rapidez - en las decisiones de asignaciones que hará este mes - para hacer frente a la violencia y la pobreza en América Central que está causando la llegad de niños inmigrantes no acompañados.

"Pan para el Mundo también tiene un interés especial en los trabajadores agrícolas - hombres y mujeres que están entre los inmigrantes más pobres y vulnerables, sin embargo, son esencial para poner comida en nuestras mesas. El presidente decidió que él no tenía autoridad para reformar la manera en que los trabajadores agrícolas entran en el país. Esa reforma aguarda la acción del Congreso.

"La inmigración es una forma de escapar el hambre y la pobreza para millones de personas en nuestro mundo, y la llegada de los inmigrantes en este país está contribuyendo a la salud económica de nuestra nación. La orden ejecutiva es un paso en la dirección correcta ".

A Step in the Right Direction for Immigration Reform

Close to three-fourths of all U.S. hired farm workers are immigrants, most of them unauthorized. Their unauthorized legal status, low wages, and an inconsistent work schedule contribute to a precarious economic state. (Bread for the World)

By Bread Staff

Immigration is a hunger issue. Hunger, poverty, and violence have driven roughly 60,000 children to seek refuge in the United States from Central America.  An estimated 11.2 million unauthorized immigrants live in the shadows where hunger and poverty persist.

It is time to act.

President Obama is expected to sign an executive order that will reportedly provide relief from the risk of deportation to four million undocumented immigrants. In a statement to the press earlier today, Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, said the president’s action is a good first step in dealing with a broken immigration system:

We applaud President Obama’s decision to craft improvements within his authority to our confused and unnecessarily harsh immigration system.

The president’s action is controversial and has important implications for our political parties.  So we also want to acknowledge those Republican leaders in Congress who are trying to respond in a way that does not disrupt this year’s appropriations process.

Our support of the president’s action is not about partisan politics.  It’s about millions of families who will have some respite from worry and new opportunities to work their way out of poverty. It is about our faith; the Bible is clear on how we should treat immigrants.  It is one piece of our commitment to opportunity for all people.

Our research demonstrates the benefits to the United States that immigration provides. Our recent research in the nation’s Rust Belt and in Miami shows how immigration is revitalizing neighborhoods.

The executive order is a momentous step in the right direction, but we need permanent legislation. We still look to Congress to reform immigration law.  For example, Congress should move quickly – in the appropriations decisions it will make this month - to address the violence and poverty in Central America that is driving the flow of unaccompanied child immigrants.

Bread for the World also has a special interest in agricultural workers – men and women who are among the poorest and most vulnerable immigrants, yet essential to putting food on our tables.  The president judged that he didn’t have authority to reform the way that agricultural workers come into the country. That reform awaits congressional action.

Immigration is a way that millions of people in our world are escaping hunger and poverty, and the flow of immigrants into this country is contributing to our nation’s economic health.  Today’s executive order is a step in the right direction.

Learn more about the connection between hunger and immigration here. And urge your members of Congress to pass legislation that addresses the root causes of hunger, poverty, and violence that are driving unaccompanied children to flee their home countries.

Activists Urge President Obama and Congress to Act Now on Immigration

Participants in the Fast for Families, join together in prayer (photo courtesy of Fast for Families).

By Bread Staff

Last week, a coalition of 16 activists and leaders from immigrant communities, including Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, sent a letter to President Obama and leadership in Congress asking them to act on immigration reform.

In a statement released to the press earlier today, Rev. Beckmann urged the President to act now.  He asks, “How can we consider ourselves a morally just society when we force families to live in the dark? How can a country as wealthy and prosperous as ours grossly mistreat our brothers and sisters who come here looking for the chance of a better life?”

Read the full text of the letter below.

Mr. President, Speaker Boehner, House Democratic Leader Pelosi, Majority Leader Reid, and Senate Republican Leader McConnell:

Pope Francis has said, “Migrants and refugees are not pawns on the chess board of humanity.”  Sadly, this is a principle Washington has not learned. We, who sign this open letter, personally know families being separated by the failures of our broken immigration system, hard workers mistreated because they have few protections, and law-abiding contributors to our economy forced to live in jeopardy of unanticipated enforcement action — all because Washington has failed to address this issue.

When we have asked you and other leaders what obstacles stand in the way; the answer we hear back is “politics.” It is time to end these political games around immigration reform. The plight of immigrant families is a moral crisis that you all must address. It’s time for moral imperatives and common sense to prevail over partisanship and ideology.

We, other pro-reform advocates, and leaders from immigrant communities have spent months meeting with members of Congress and the Administration. When our voices were ignored many of us fasted on the National Mall and rallied people across the country behind the need for immigration reform. Business leaders and entrepreneurs, people of faith, law enforcement officials, and the vast majority of Americans—Republicans, Democrats, and Independents—want our broken system fixed.

Thus far, Congress has refused to act, ignoring the will of the people and the needless devastation being wrought on families and communities. We believe that a vote to fix the immigration system would pass in a bi-partisan way if brought to the floor of the House of Representatives and given a fair chance.

Mr. Speaker and Majority Leader, we hope, pray, and call upon the next Congress to act and address this issue because the suffering of millions has become both impossible and irresponsible to ignore. Your leadership is both desperately needed at this critical moment. The time for action is now. Compassion cannot be delayed any longer. Justice should not be denied any longer.

Mr. President, we urge you to do everything legally in your power to keep families together, strengthen our economy, and increase our national security. Legislation will clearly and finally be necessary to comprehensively reform our broken immigration system. But through executive action, you can and should alleviate a great deal of suffering while Congress determines a long-term path forward. Your leadership at this critical moment is both a moral imperative and a legitimate legal course. This is a step the country needs you to take.

Running Out of Time: Help Children in Central America

(Bread for the World)

By Eric Mitchell

The clock is counting down to December 11. On that day, the bill that is currently funding the U.S. government will expire. To prevent a government shutdown, Congress will need to pass a bill to continue funding federal programs.

This moment is an important opportunity! I believe we can secure key funding in this bill to address the violence, hunger, and poverty that is driving thousands of migrant children from their homes in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. I believe we can get Congress to include a comprehensive strategy to address these root causes of the child refugee crisis on our southern border.

Congress is finalizing this bill, and they need to hear from you today. Urge your U.S. representative and your U.S. senators to include the following provisions in any final spending bill:

  • $300 million for the State Department to address the conditions causing children to flee their home countries. This funding would support programs that promote economic development, repatriation and reintegration efforts for children who return to their home countries, services for at-risk young people, and help improve governance in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.
  • A strategy to address the poverty, lack of educational and employment opportunities, and the high rates of criminal gang activity that are driving children to flee to the United States and provide $100 million to implement this strategy.

Please call or email Congress today (Capitol switchboard: 800/826-3688)! Demonstrate your commitment to the least and most vulnerable among us. These boys and girls from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador deserve to live in a world free of hunger, violence, and poverty. By funding programs and initiatives that address such problems, we can ensure a more dignified, hopeful, and promising future for them and all of God’s children.

Eric Mitchell is the director of government relations at Bread for the World.

Congress Returns for Lame-Duck Session

Feed the Future programs help families like the Aktars in Barisal, Bangladesh become food secure. There is an opportunity to authorize the program during the 2014 lame-duck session if Congress acts. (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)

On Wednesday, the 113th Congress returns for its final session before the holiday break. Members are expected to work through December 11.

The short, upcoming session, commonly referred to as a lame-duck session (or a lame-duck Congress), is the work period after an election but before newly elected members replace outgoing members – those who are retiring, moving chambers, or have lost their seats during the election. For outgoing members of Congress, it is an opportunity to leave a legacy – passing important legislation that can help end hunger.

As our thoughts turn to holiday preparations of feasting and family gatherings, we should not forget those who face the season hungry. There are opportunities during the lame-duck session to address global food security, increase our ability to deliver food aid, and address the hunger causing the child refugee crisis on our southern border.

  • Appropriations: Congress cannot leave town without making some provision for government funding, which expires December 11, or it faces a government shutdown. Legislators could pass a short funding extension or start the new year off with the government fully funded.  A bill that would fund the remainder of fiscal year 2015 could come in the form of an omnibus – combining several small funding bills into a large bill requiring a single vote – or Congress could pass a straight-up extension of all programs at current funding levels, also known as a continuing resolution (CR), or a combination of the two. Congress should include funding that would address the violence, hunger, and poverty that have forced more than 68,000 children to flee their homes in Central America. 
  • The Global Food Security Act – Since 2010, Feed the Future programs have helped millions of farmers increase crop production and food security around the world. It is time to codify the program into law.  With enough pressure from constituents, bills introduced in the House and Senate (H.R. 5656/S. 2909) could be voted on and passed during the lame-duck session.
  • Food for Peace Reform Act: With multiple food crises dominating the news, there is an opportunity to build the political will to pass food-aid reform in the new year by increasing cosponsors to S.2421, The Food for Peace Reform Act of 2014.

January 2015 will usher in the 114th Congress, which will include those members who won seats in last week’s elections. If you are in a district or state with a newly elected member of Congress, now is a good time to introduce them to Bread for the World and talk to them about making ending hunger a legislative priority. Contact your regional organizer for more information on how you can set up an in-district meeting.

Congress acts when there is a tipping point of pressure from back home. By taking the time to reach out to our members of Congress now, we can help ensure a better and more prosperous 2015 for everyone. 


Stay Connected

Bread for the World