Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

78 posts categorized "Immigration"

Orden Ejecutiva Sobre Inmigración 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. 


Tell Congress to finish the job – for the sake of the children

By Eric Mitchell

This week, millions of Americans voted in the midterm elections. Their message was clear: Regardless of party affiliation, voters want a government that can get things done.

The government doesn’t need to wait until the new Congress is seated in January. The current Congress can do something when it returns to Washington next week, and your representative’s support will be key in whether legislation regarding refugee children is voted into law.

The Bible tells the story of Moses, who as an innocent child, fleeing for his life, was set adrift in a basket toward an uncertain future with only a prayer and his mother’s hope for his safety. Scripture also teaches us to love the stranger in our land (Leviticus19:33-34).

Earlier this year, few in Congress were paying attention to the root causes of hunger, poverty, and violence that have driven more than 68,000 Central American children to seek refuge in the United States.

But thanks to Bread for the World members like you who sent over 10,000 emails to Congress, a bill has been introduced that does exactly what we’ve been calling for.

When members of Congress return to Washington next week, they won’t be in town long.

  • Call and ask your representative to cosponsor the Security and Opportunity for Vulnerable Migrant Children Act of 2014 (H.R. 5368) to address the root causes of hunger, poverty, and violence in Central America (Capitol switchboard: 800/826-3688). You can also send an email.

Combined with strong funding for global anti-hunger programs, this bill would ensure more children grow up in safe communities with educational and employment opportunities, pursuing futures of promise. This means they would have fewer reasons to leave their home countries in the first place and could stay with their families.

The bill requires the State Department to develop a strategy to address the issues that are driving children from their home countries. It also creates an Ambassador-at-Large for Unaccompanied Migrant Children to further protect refugee children.

Please contact your U.S. representative today, and urge him/her to cosponsor H.R. 5368, the Security and Opportunity for Vulnerable Migrant Children Act of 2014.

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

Update: Child Refugee Crisis


“They will hunger no more, and thirst no more;
    the sun will not strike them,
    nor any scorching heat;

or the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd,
    and he will guide them to springs of the water of life,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

            Revelation 7: 16-17 (NRSV)

In the past year, more than 68,000 unaccompanied children have fled hunger, poverty, and violence and crossed into the United States. Most have come from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. The United States is witnessing a humanitarian crisis in this situation.

Developing a strategy in the region to address these root causes along with funding global anti-hunger programs that can address economic stability are first steps in stemming the tide of hungry people seeking refuge. Congress must act quickly with critical funding on its return to Washington.

In the House, Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard (Calif.-40) introduced the Security and Opportunity for Vulnerable Migrant Children Act of 2014 (H.R. 5368) meant to address the root causes driving children to flee their countries of origin in Central America.  Bread for the World is urging members of Congress to cosponsor the bill.

Learn more:  Fact Sheet: The Child Refugee Crisis of 2014

Banking on the Entrepreneurial Spirit of Immigrants: Microcredits Come to Iowa

Jesus Castro - West Des Moines, IA
Immigrant entrepreneur Jesus Castro poses in front of his grocery story. (Bread for the World)

For those who leave behind hearth and home, often fleeing hunger and poverty, the drive to succeed is strong. Given the right conditions, immigrant entrepreneurs can improve their lives and the economies of the communities in which they thrive.

Iowa is banking on it. This month, Solidarity Microfinance launched a microcredit program with the goal of reducing poverty rates while increasing economic activity in Des Moines.

“Wherever you find immigrant growth you’ll find entrepreneurship,” Iowa State University researcher Sandra Burke told Andrew Wainer, senior immigration policy analyst for Bread for the World Institute.

Wainer interviewed Burke for “The American midwest is the new microfinance frontier,” recently published in The Guardian.

One such immigrant entrepreneur is Jose Castro, a farmer originally from Michoacan, Mexico. In 1983, he left his small farm and worked a variety of jobs in California before finding himself in Des Moines in 1994. Eventually, he set up a grocery store, La Michoacana. He wants to expand it to include an eating area but additional capital or credit has been difficult to secure. It is enrepreneurs like Jose Castro who will benefit most from programs like that that of Solidarity Microfinance.

Iowa, which has the lowest level of entrepreneurial activity in the United States, has a growing immigrant population. Wainer writes that the potential of many would-be entrepreneurs is blocked by traditional financial services. What was once a development tool to reduce poverty in developing countries could now be the key to unlocking economic potential in immigrant communities here at home.  Read the full article here.

To learn more about the connections between hunger and immigration go here.

Congress Passes Funding Extension Before Leaving to Campaign

Elections Cover 2014 SmallBy Robin Stephenson

With little fanfare, Congress passed a continuing resolution this week to extend funding for the government through mid-December. Lawmakers now head home to campaign for midterm elections, leaving a pile of unfinished business in Washington, D.C. 

Congress will not return to the capital until November 12. Bread for the World urges advocates to use the flurry of campaign activity as an opportunity to make hunger an elections issue.

“The more advocates lift up hunger as an election issue, the more Congress will act on legislation that can end hunger by 2030,” says Amelia Kegan, deputy director of Bread for the World’s government relations department.

The funding extension passed before Congress left on recess was modified to include additional funding to arm Syrian rebels, but did not include dollars to address the poverty that is driving children to flee Latin America—primarily Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras—into the United States. Lawmakers did include instructions allowing certain federal agencies to spend at higher rates to address the surge of child refugees at the border.

Congress also returns home as the World Food Program (WFP) warns of unprecedented global food emergencies and dwindling resources. WFP will cut food rations to four million Syrian refugees by 40 percent in October because of shortages. Central African Republic, South Sudan, Syria, and Iraq have all been designated as level-three (the highest) humanitarian crises by WFP, straining the food aid system. 

As the world’s largest donor of food aid, the United States can free up even more food resources by increasing efficiencies without raising taxes. A bill in the Senate, The Food for Peace Reform Act (S. 2421), addresses reform, and we are urging senators to cosponsor the bill.

On the heels of the news that 45.3 million Americans live below the poverty line, Congress must address a jobs agenda that includes work that pays a living wage.  Tax credits that help end hunger are also expiring before the end of the year.

One bright spot is that the passage of the continuing resolution yesterday to fund the government allows us to avoid a partisan showdown like we experienced last fall that shut the federal government down for more than two weeks. However, Congress left a lot of work undone.

“These are big issues they are leaving on the table, “says Kegan. “When lawmakers return, they need to address all these issues in budget decisions by December 11.” 

Kegan stresses that advocacy efforts right now will reverberate long past December. She says the elections work will play a big role in ending hunger during the 2015 session if candidates hear from voters. “ The elections,” she says, “will set the tone for next year when Congress begins work on the 2016 budget.”

The national trends both globally and domestically have been very positive. World hunger declined in 2014, and a report from UNICEF released yesterday says that child deaths have been cut in half since 1990.  As the U.S. economy rebounds, more people are returning to the labor market, and poverty rates here at home have decreased slightly, by 0.5 percent, for the first time since 2006.

Now is not the time to let up on hunger. Engage the candidates and help make hunger history.

Robin Stephenson is the national lead for social media and a senior regional organizer


Return from Recess

Capitol 2
(Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World)

As summer draws to a close, members of Congress return to Washington for a short work period before entering the final campaign stretch before the midterm elections. Here are hunger-related items before Congress this fall:

Food-Aid Reform

Over the August recess, Bread has been urging senators to co-sponsor the Food for Peace Reform Act, introduced by Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.). This food-aid reform legislation will free up as much as $440 million annually through greater efficiencies in delivering aid and enable U.S. food aid to reach up to nine million more people. Read more about the legislation at www.bread.org/indistrict. While this legislation may not become law this year, more co-sponsors will significantly help push the issue forward in the new Congress.

The Senate Commerce Committee was scheduled to mark up the Coast Guard reauthorization bill (S. 2444), but that mark-up was postponed before the August recess due to unrelated issues. There is no word on when the legislation will come back up in committee, but Bread will continue to encourage senators to omit the harmful cargo-preference provision that the House had. This harmful provision increases the amount of food aid that must be shipped on U.S.-flagged carriers, costing the government an additional $75 million and would leave 2 million hungry people around the world without access to lifesaving food aid.

Immigration and Unaccompanied Children

In the weeks before the August recess, Congress was debating and crafting legislation to address the surge of unaccompanied children fleeing Latin America—primarily Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras—into the United States. Read Bread’s bill analysis on the pieces of legislation that Congress considered before its recess at www.bread.org/indistrict.

Until recently, the debate has lacked much attention to the root causes of the crisis: poverty, hunger, and violence. However, during July, Bread activists sent over 10,000 emails to their senators and representatives, urging them to include these root causes as part of any legislation addressing the child refugee crisis. In meetings with congressional offices over the past few weeks, Bread staff have noticed that members of Congress are starting to incorporate root causes into their thinking about the issue.

When Congress returns, there will be two opportunities for legislators to address the child refugee crisis. Congress could pass a separate emergency supplemental spending bill as both the House and Senate were attempting to do before the recess. Alternatively, Congress could include provisions to address the crisis in the regular spending, or appropriations, bill, which is a “must-pass” piece of legislation to keep the government open. Congress will pass a short-term measure in September to get through the mid-term elections and will then revisit these appropriations decisions for the remainder of the fiscal year in December. Both periods offer an opportunity for Congress to add language addressing the surge of refugee children in the U.S.

Budget and Appropriations

In September, Congress will have to pass some sort of budget as the government's fiscal year ends at the end of the month. Congress may pass a continuing resolution (CR) to prevent a government shutdown. The easiest route is to pass a clean CR that just extends current funding levels. However, both parties will push for certain spending add-ons, such as funding for the border or wildfires. Some Republicans could also press for additional spending cuts. Any CR is likely to last until mid-December to push any concerns over a shutdown beyond the mid-term elections.

This post originally appeared in Bread for the World's September online newsletter.

Stay Connected

Bread for the World