69 posts categorized "Immigration"
The future of immigration reform hangs on whether or not the House can pass legislation in the next couple of months. The Senate passed its bill nearly a year ago. A number of representatives have been working behind the scenes, drafting different immigration bills, but now the House must turn that negotiating and drafting into legislating and acting. The coming weeks are critical, but offer an important opportunity for advocates to help advance reform.
Immigration reform, particularly establishing a path to legalization and citizenship, will have an enormous impact on our ability to end hunger. There are an estimated 11-12 million people living in this country without documentation. Legal status is one of several factors contributing to poverty and hunger among undocumented immigrants.
Exploitation in the workforce is prevalent among undocumented immigrants. When employers fail to pay wages or violate employment laws, fear of deportation prevents undocumented immigrants from taking action. Today, undocumented immigrants are failing to reach their full earning potential, paying less in taxes, and contributing less to the economy than they would be if not for their legal status. Legalization and citizenship could increase immigrants’ earnings by 13 percent or more. But the House must act and pass legislation.
A path to legalization would enable millions of undocumented immigrants to move out of poverty by providing legal protections that will raise the wages of immigrants, creating better employment opportunities and providing access to better education.
Undocumented immigrants are more likely to work than the general population, but are also more likely to live in poverty. In fact, one-third of undocumented immigrants live in poverty, and within some unauthorized immigrant communities, more than half of the population is at risk of hunger. The problem is particularly pronounced among children — one-third of U.S.-born children of undocumented parents live in poverty. Immigration reform will significantly reduce hunger and poverty in the United States.
Time is running out. If Congress fails to reform our immigration system this year, it could be years before we get another chance. The Senate passed S. 744 last June, but no bill can become law unless both chambers pass legislation. The House needs to act before the August recess. The next two months are critical! Email your representative and urge him or her to pass immigration reform with a path to legalization and citizenship, and to do so without delay.
Immigration reform is part of the exodus from hunger for which we advocate and pray. The book of Leviticus tells us to “treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” We must act quickly and compassionately to make immigration reform a reality.
Photos: Scenes from an immigration reform rally in Washington, D.C., in 201o. (Flickr user Anushka Sampedro)
(Left to right): Kay DeBlance, Rebecca Walker, Aaron Marez and David Ramos of Texas walk through the Russell Senate Office Building on their way to a meeting during Bread for the World's 2012 Lobby Day. If you can't join us in person for this year's Lobby Day, please support our efforts by pledging to call your members of Congress: www.bread.org/call. (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)
By Eric Mitchell
Right now, we're at a turning point in the fight to end hunger.
There are two issues — food-aid reform and immigration reform — that are making their way through Congress right now, and decisions made by legislators in the coming weeks could impact our work to end hunger for years to come. Millions of people could be affected. During this critical time, hundreds of Bread members will be gathering in Washington, D.C., for our annual Lobby Day, and urging Congress to do the right thing. But in order to make the most of this opportunity, we need your voice.
We have a real opportunity to advance food-aid reform and immigration reform—two issues that are central to our goal of ending hunger. Here are the messages we’re taking to Congress on Lobby Day:
- Pass immigration reform without delay! Immigration reform will reduce hunger by ensuring immigrants receive fairer wages and work in better conditions. Our Christian faith calls on us to welcome the stranger, and with Congress’ attention already turning to the November elections, the window for a vote on major legislation is closing quickly. Congress must act now to provide a path to legalization and citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
- Reject changes to food aid that hurt the hungry! An obscure provision before Congress would change the transportation requirements for U.S. food aid in a way that would make the process of getting food to people in need slower and more expensive. Two million people would go without lifesaving food aid just to pad the bottom lines of a few powerful shipping companies, and that’s not right. Congress must reject any action that increases transportation costs for food aid and support common sense food-aid reforms.
With hundreds of Bread members coming to Washington just as these issues are being debated in Congress, we have a huge opportunity to effect change. But we need our entire Bread community — including you — to really have an impact. We need to make sure Congress hears a loud chorus of Christian voices.
Help end hunger by raising your voice. You are an important part of Bread for the World and we need your help — your at-home advocacy on June 9 will strengthen our in-person advocacy efforts on June 10.
So what do you say? Will you stand with us at this critical time? This kind of opportunity doesn't come around often. I hope to have you with us.
Eric Mitchell is Bread for the World's director of government relations.
A group of advocates gathered in front of the U.S. Capitol, on June 27, 2013, to pray for compassionate, comprehensive immigration reform (Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World).
There are many people who can’t always spend Mother’s Day with their moms, for different reasons. In my case, visiting my mother means risking my family’s financial stability and possibly never returning to the country, the friends, or the job that I love.
I am one of the 12 million people who live in the United States without documentation. I left Tegucigalpa, Honduras, in 2002, seeking a better life. I’ve worked hard since coming here. I’ve held the same job for years, I’m active in my church, I volunteer in my community, and I’ve earned a high school diploma. Still, I live in constant fear of being deported.
Because of my status, leaving the country to visit my mother could mean never returning to the United States. So this Mother’s Day, for the eleventh year in a row, I won’t see my mom. I’ll only call her and tell her I wish we could spend the day together.
As you prepare to honor your mother in a few days, please stand with me and add your name to Bread for the World’s Mother’s Day card to Speaker John Boehner, which asks him to bring an immigration reform bill to a vote in the House of Representatives. Bread for the World staffers will deliver the card to Boehner’s office and urge him to work with his colleagues to fix this country’s broken immigration system and stop tearing families apart.
My story is not unique. I know mothers who’ve come to the United States to earn a living and must leave their children with relatives, and others who have watched their own children leave for the U.S., never getting to see them grow up. At home there are very few jobs and little opportunity. The money I’ve been able to send home helps feed, clothe, and house my parents, my brother and sister, and my nieces and nephews. Without it, I don’t know what would happen to them. When I hear people say unkind things about undocumented immigrants, I wonder if they would let their families suffer or starve if put in the same position.
My faith in God, my faith in Congress to do the right thing, and my faith in people to speak out lead me to believe we can pass comprehensive immigration reform now. People who live in fear of being separated from their brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, fathers, and mothers—or of never seeing them again—cannot wait.
Rosa is one of 12 million U.S. residents living in this country without documentation.
Click here for a Spanish-language version of Rosa's story and the petition to Speaker Boehner.
With one-third of unauthorized immigrants living in poverty and reports showing that legalization and citizenship would increase immigrants' earnings 13 percent or more, immigration reform is an important hunger issue. Moreover, the biblical mandate to "welcome the stranger" implores us as Christians to seek reform of our country's immigration system. The Hebrew word for immigrant — ger — appears 92 times in the Bible.
It has been nearly a year since the Senate passed S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. Despite widespread support for advancing some sort of immigration reform, the House has yet to act as a whole. However, significant movement has taken place behind the scenes.
The Senate passed one large comprehensive immigration bill, but the House decided to take a piecemeal approach, opting instead to pass a number of separate bills dealing with different aspects of our immigration system. The House Judiciary Committee has passed five bordersecurity measures. More importantly, three other bills lie in the wings as representatives negotiate final details and prepare for the proper moment to introduce their legislation. These bills focus on granting citizenship to DREAMERS (undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as young children by their parents or relatives and who have lived most of their lives here), providing a path to legalization for the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S., and addressing low-skilled workers.
For Congress to carry out comprehensive immigration reforms, the House must act. The votes exist. Speaker John Boehner needs only to bring legislation to the floor of the House for a vote. Many House Republicans, including many within the leadership, have made strong statements indicating their support for passing reforms this year.
There are two periods when immigration reform has its best chance of passing out of the House: the next couple of months and early this fall. A number of House Republicans wanted to delay voting for reforms, scared off by potential primary challengers. Now that the primaries are ending, a short window of opportunity exists before the August recess. Another short window of opportunity exists in September, after the August recess but before members return to their districts for the final campaign spree before the November elections.
Members of Congress must feel political pressure to act. They must feel there is a political cost in their November elections if they are seen as not acting on immigration reform. This is not a question of policy. It is a question of politics and members hearing from their constituents. Members of Congress need to be going to leadership, urging them to bring immigration bills up for a vote in the House because they are feeling too much pressure back home not to do so.
During Bread's 2014 Lobby Day (June 10 — see Bread Slices for more information), we will be increasing this pressure. One of the "asks" or topics during Lobby Day will be urging House members to press for votes on immigration reform, primarily those bills that will have a measurable impact in reducing hunger.
Photo: Advocates gather in front of the U.S. Capitol on June 27, 2013, to pray for compassionate, comprehensive immigration reform. (Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World)
[This article originally appeared in the May 2014 edition of Bread for the World's e-newsletter.]
As immigration reform remains stuck in Congress, local and state proposals are gaining traction, for better or for worse. Here, demonstrators gathered at immigration reform rally held in Los Angeles on Feb. 22, 2014. (Ricardo Moreno)
[This article originally appeared in the National Journal, on April 21.]
By Andrew Wainer and Audrey Singer
For those of us tracking immigration policy, the shift is undeniable. With President Obama recently pointing out just how gridlocked a once-promising bipartisan Senate immigration proposal has become, cities and states have become the new immigration-policy innovators. They are filling the void.
U.S. immigration policy has been the purview of the federal government for more than a century. But it was not always that way. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, individual states had their own immigration laws. States typically sought to regulate immigrant influxes with policies that reflected particular concern about the arrival of poor European newcomers. Now, immigration policy is, in some ways, returning to its roots.
Increasingly, places that want to put out the welcome mat and encourage entrepreneurial activity are sharing ideas. And as a quick federal fix to immigration policy looks like a long shot, local and state proposals are gaining traction.
Gabriel and Jeanette Salguero, pastors at The Lamb’s Church in New York City, spoke at Bread for the World’s 2011 Gathering at American University on Sunday, June 12, 2011. (Rick Reinhard)
“Our broken immigration system is breaking apart families,” Rev. Gabriel Salguero told listeners during the April 15 national grassroots conference call and webinar.
Rev. Salguero stressed that it is urgent that the House of Representatives take up–and pass–immigration reform this year. Salguero, a leading voice in the call to reform U.S. immigration policy, is president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition (NaLEC).
Bread for the World believes immigration reform will reduce hunger and poverty. We ask Bread advocates to urge their representatives to pass legislation this year. The Senate has already passed a bill, but legislation continues to stall in the House.
“Inaction is not an option,” Rev. Salguero told advocates. Outdated immigration policy leaves millions of undocumented people in the shadows, where hunger and poverty persists. Roughly a third of the estimated 11 to 12 million people living and working in the United States without documentation live below the poverty line. Deportations rip families apart. DREAMers–the 1.8 million young people brought to the United States as children–live in fear of being banished from the country that is their home.
Addressing the likelihood of moving an immigration bill during an election year, Salguero noted that the last time immigration legislation passed, there were midterm elections. However, advocates must build the momentum for action. “We use leverage at the local level – such as town hall meetings,” said Salguero, “Tell Congress the faith community wants a vote.”
When Congress returns from the Easter recess next week, there are several urgent issues that need attention in order for progress to be made in the exodus from hunger: budget appropriations, an unemployment extension, a minimum wage bill, food-aid reform, and immigration reform should all be given high priority by leadership.
In June, immigration reform will take center stage at this year’s National Gathering. Presenters include Rev. Salguero and immigration-rights leader Gaby Pacheco. Attendees to the Washington D.C. conference will also spend a day on Capitol Hill telling lawmakers that immigration reform is the moral thing to do and the time to act is now.
A conversation about immigration reform and inaction by Congress so close to Easter had particular poignancy to Rev. Salguero, who told webinar participants, “It is time to resurrect the conversation about immigration reform.”
On the third Tuesday of each month, in an effort to best serve our grassroots and give them a legislative update, the organizing and government relations departments at Bread for the World host a conference call and webinar. The next call will take place on May 13.
Marvin Garcia Salas eats breakfast with his son Jesus, 4, in Chiapas, Mexico. Marvin was once an undocumented immigrant in the United States, where he had moved without his family to better support them. Hunger, and a lack of economic opportunity are at the root of much of the undocumented immigration from Mexico. (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)
"Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me..."
Immigration is a hunger issue. Our broken immigration system in the United States leaves too many without access to resources they need to live. Poverty and hunger have been major forces driving immigration to this country; for those who live here as undocumented immigrants, their status means a precarious life in the shadows.
Immigration reform is part of the exodus from hunger for which Bread for the World members advocate and pray. Yet, as legislation to reform immigration languishes and the House of Representatives fails to act, frustration on the part of advocates mounts and people continue to suffer. A Christian response requires us to use our voices and advocate for our brothers and sisters both here and abroad, but a faithful response to hunger also includes prayer.
Today, we join with our partners in the Evangelical Immigration Table, and other people of faith, in praying for our leaders in Congress, the congregations and pastors who care for immigrants and their families, and for the millions of people hurt by an outdated immigration system.
Take a moment during your day, or at any point over the next 24 hours, and pray for those who hunger for reform. Use the prayer below or one of your own choosing. Ask other in your church, campus, or community to join you, and help make this day of prayer a powerful one that moves hearts and minds. If you are a Twitter user, ask others to join you in prayer and action by using the hashtag #Pray4Reform.
All things are possible through Christ who strengthens us.
Prayer for a Hungry "Stranger"
Lord Jesus Christ, Giver of abundant love,
guidance and protection,
our hearts are filled with gratitude.
Your love empowers us to do your will,
to be your hands and feet in this world,
for your purpose.
Your grace enables us to recognize injustice
and to partner in the restoration of brokenness in our
own lives and of unjust systems.
There is hunger and poverty in our world
that displaces our brothers and sisters from their homes and homelands.
Lord Jesus, we seek your shelter and protection.
Migrant workers harvest the food on our tables yet suffer
unsafe labor conditions and empty cupboards.
Lord Jesus, we imagine your harvest
to be rich and plentiful for all people
and that all people are fed and have a place at the table.
The decisions of lawmakers in this nation impact
the flourishing of millions children created in your image.
Lord Jesus, may we witness a change in this nation’s priorities so that
hunger is no longer acceptable.
May we see the dignity
of every person upheld, especially their right to food.
Lord Jesus, may we be strengthened by your example
to welcome the stranger, love our neighbor and feed the hungry
so that our brothers and sisters everywhere will flourish.
Photo: A woman prays during a worship service in Guatemala. (Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World)
The prospects for immigration reform in 2014 were diminished in recent days when House Speaker John Boehner questioned whether an immigration bill could pass the House, due to Republicans’ “widespread doubt about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws.” Rep. Boehner added, “It's going to be difficult to move any immigration legislation until that changes.”
After raising advocates’ hopes for reform this year with the release of House Republican principles for reform, Rep. Boehner’s comments put the short-term viability of immigration reform in limbo. Still, advocates continue to push for reform, both with Congress and the administration. Boehner’s apparent call for delaying immigration reform hasn’t prevented other Republican leaders and constituencies at the local, state, and national levels to continue to push for updating the nation’s outdated immigration system.
During a meeting with the National Governors’ Association in Washington, D.C., Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said, "I'm a Republican and I'm happy to help lead the charge to say, 'Let's embrace immigration.'" Snyder described himself as being “probably among the most pro-immigration governors in the country."
In Congress, many of Boehner’s colleagues, including Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart are reportedly working on legislation that will meet a majority of Republican representatives’ doubts regarding enforcing immigration provisions. Rep. Diaz-Balart also said it would meet many Democratic congressional members’ requirements. “Can you draft legislation that has serious border and interior security, with sufficient leverage to force this or future administrations?” Rep. Diaz-Balart said. “I think we have drafted a way to actually do that.”
Major Republican constituencies have also stepped up their pressure on Congress to bring immigration reform legislation to the House floor this year. U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue re-emphasized the economic need for immigration stating, “The case for immigration reform is clear. The need is undeniable. The time is now.” Donohue’s statement was followed by a multi-industry letter on immigration reform signed by 636 businesses. “Failure to act is not an option,” the letter stated.
Faith-based groups across the political spectrum also continue to lead the push for reform. Catholic and evangelical Christian leaders united to urge Congress “to move forward and create a new immigration process.” Leaders participating in the call urging Congress to act included National Association of Evangelicals President Leith Anderson, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference Rev. Sam Rodriguez, and Catholic Archbishop Thomas Wenski.
Bread for the World continues to partner with the broad spectrum of faith-based groups in pushing for reform. Bread for the World Institute’s research on the economic impact of immigration is also impacting how immigration is viewed in economic terms. In February, the Detroit News published on op-ed by the Institute on the potential of immigration to help fuel the city’s revitalization.
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