Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

52 posts categorized "Immigration"

Fast for Families: A Call for Immigration Reform

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

In February 2004, Sang Hyuk Jung left Korea and came to the United States, full of hope for a better future. He had visited the country a year earlier to prepare his paperwork and meet with several  "experts," who told him that everything would be fine as long as he paid his "immigration fees." 

Several years passed, and Jung learned that his case had gone nowhere. He was out a huge sum of money, and the "immigration consultant" he'd been working with threatened to turn him in to authorities if he contacted him again. Jung later applied to change his visa status through the proper channels, but his application was denied. He fell into a deep depression and even thought about going back to Korea, but didn't want to uproot his children, who had been living in the United States for five years at that point. He continues to live in this country without legal documentation.

Jung is one of people participating in Fast for Families: A Call for Immigration Reform. On Nov. 12, faith, immigrant rights, and labor leaders launched the fast in an effort to move the hearts of members of Congress, and inspire them to pass compassionate immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. Bread for the World is one of the sponsors of Fast for Families, and several Bread staff members are fasting.

Jung says he is participating because he is tired of living in the shadows.

"I don’t want to be ashamed of who I am," he wrote in a recent blog post. "I want to tell you, tell others that we should not be discouraged. I know how difficult it is to live as an undocumented immigrant. Yet, I (and my family still) have hope. I believe we can pass comprehensive immigration reform together.

"I also have a message to the members of Congress," he continued. "We, the undocumented, are not different from you. We are just like your friends and families. We also work hard and pay taxes to make this nation better. We’ve been a part of this great nation. If you continue to deny our rights as human beings, if you use us for your political advantage, if you continue to break our families, you will find yourself isolated and you will be held responsible when immigrant families stride to polling places."

We ask that you join us in standing in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are seeking U.S. citizenship. Sign up to fast, participate in an action in your area, and be sure to contact your representative and tell him or her that it's time for the House of Representatives to move immigration reform forward.

Challenging Lawmakers to Prioritize Smart Immigration Reform

R4RSocialGraphic_EN_lgBy Minju Zukowski

On Oct. 29, a group of 600 conservative faith, business, and law enforcement leaders from around the country gathered in Washington, D.C., to advocate for immigration reform at the Americans for Reform event. The group met with Republican lawmakers and shared with them the message that our nation has a moral obligation to reform our immigration system—and the time for reform is now.

Bread for the World partners such as Asbury Seminary in Kentucky and the Christian Reformed Church in North America, located in Grand Rapids, Mich., were among the diverse religious delegations participating in the event.

This gathering signaled that, across the political spectrum—from socially conservative evangelical Christians to progressive immigrant rights leaders, from business leaders to labor unions—Americans are #Ready4Reform

There are approximately 11-12 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. Once in this country, immigrants typically improve their economic condition, but their legal status means they are blocked from realizing their economic potential and making full contributions to the U.S. economy.  The poverty rate for undocumented immigrants is estimated to be between 21 to 35 percent—despite the fact that these individuals have a high workforce participation rate.  

Bread for the World views immigration reform as a hunger and poverty issue. Supporting reform that offers undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship will reduce poverty, by giving them access to education and employment opportunities. It will also stimulate national economic growth. Studies show immigration grows the economy, reduces the national debt, and can even create jobs for natives.

It’s easy for lawmakers who are contemplating critical decisions about immigration reform to forget that the reason most people migrate to the United States is because they are seeking to escape crippling poverty in their home countries. They are doing what anyone would do if faced with a similar situation—taking a risk in order to improve their lives and the lives of their family members.  

While the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill in June, the House has yet to put any immigration reform proposal to a full vote. Bread for the World and its partners are working to ensure that House leadership puts a vote on immigration reform on the 2013 calendar. The Evangelical Immigration Table (EIT), of which Bread is a member, recently released a letter urging the House to continue working on immigration and take up reform that includes a pathway to legalization or citizenship. EIT faith leaders also met with President Obama and Vice President Biden this week to reiterate their support for broad immigration reform that transcends politics.

So what can you do? Email, or tweet, your members of Congress and tell them that America is #Ready4Reform. Urge them to support smart immigration reform that helps undocumented immigrants lift themselves out of poverty follows the biblical mandate to welcome the stranger.

Minju Zukowski, a senior marketing major at Towson University in Maryland, is Bread for the World’s media relations intern.

Coming months bring busy Congressional agenda for hunger and poverty issues

Lobby Day Photo by Jim Stipe / Bread for the World
We will be calling on you during the coming months to protect SNAP and food-aid reform, help end the sequester, and advance immigration reform. Photo: Lobby day activists (Jim Stipe for Bread for the World).

The Oct. 16 budget deal in Congress re-opened the government and raised the debt ceiling for a few months longer. This deal and new deadlines have set off an intense period in which Bread for the World will have to work extremely hard to protect funding for programs that address hunger and help people move out of poverty in the U.S. and around the world.

From now through January, Bread for the World’s primary focus will be on three legislative priorities:

  1. Protecting SNAP and international food-aid reform during the final negotiations on the farm bill
  2. Advocating for a 2014 budget agreement that ends the sequester and provides revenues
  3. Advancing comprehensive immigration reform

Last week, some parts of this busy fall and winter legislative agenda got underway. Congress' budget conference committee held an organizing meeting and its first public meeting, and the farm bill conference committee held its first public meeting. Meanwhile, on Nov. 1, $11 billion in food stamp (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) cuts went into effect.

We will need your help in order to achieve our legislative priorities, especially since the timing that these issues will be dealt with is tight. Here are key dates to note:

November 2013

  • 13: Budget conference committee holds its second public meeting
  • 25: Bread for the World Institute releases its 2014 Hunger Report: Ending Hunger in America

December 2013

  • 13: Deadline for the budget conference committee to reach an agreement

January 2014

  • 1: Certain effects of expired farm bill begin (milk prices, etc.)
  • 15: Continuing resolution for federal budget expires. Congress must pass a spending bill to prevent another government shutdown.

February 2014

  • 7: Debt-ceiling extension expires. Treasury Department begins using extraordinary measures to prevent default.

March 2014 or later

  • Treasury Department exhausts all extraordinary measures, and Congress must raise the debt ceiling to prevent a default.

Throughout this intense period, we will be calling on you again and again to help urge your members of Congress to advance our legislative priorities. Thank you for your commitment to ending hunger and for going with us into these busy few months.

Pray for Comprehensive Immigration Reform Oct. 12 - 20

Pray for reform
Photo from the Evangelical Immigration Table's Pray4Reform gathering, held on the U.S. Capitol grounds in June. (Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World)

Beginning this Saturday, Oct. 12, and continuing through Oct. 20, faithful advocates across the country will join in prayer for comprehensive immigration reform. Christians will be gathering in Jesus’ name to lift up our representatives in Congress, the immigrants in our communities, and our churches.

Bread for the World views immigration reform as a hunger and poverty issue, as people cross borders to escape poverty and improve their livelihoods. Immigration reform will help reduce poverty and hunger among undocumented immigrants.

In partnership with the Evangelical Immigration Table, we will proclaim a biblical vision of immigration reform that respects the rule of law, reunites families, and upholds human dignity. Bread for the World members are invited to join either by participating in a gathering that is already planned or by hosting and planning your own event. This guide provides contact information and step-by-step instructions on how to plan a Pray4Reform gathering. 

For more information and links, see "Action Needed: Pray and Act for Immigration Reform."

If you are unable to attend, set aside a quiet moment and pray this prayer, courtesy of the American Baptist Church, or one of your own. You can also follow the action on Twitter or share your own prayer using the hashtag #Pray4Reform.

O God, we speak of our country as One nation under God indivisible with liberty and justice for all but we come to you today because liberty is threatened and justice is an orphan. We cry out to you for you are the defender of the alien, a shelter for the dispossessed, a mighty rock in a weary land. We lift our voices this morning for dreams deferred and hope held hostage; for families divided and sojourners incarcerated.  We pray for legislators whose intransigence is breaking the backs of the poor and the immigrant.

Raise up within their ranks those with an uncommon heart for  the common good, with vision that sees past the next election and moral courage that isn't subservient to the next poll.  Fill their hearts with compassion and give them a belly full of courage that freedom's bell might ring in welcome in every corner, every hamlet, every village, every city of our land. Make us again what we have always been:  a haven for those seeking a better life. 

Strengthen the hands and hearts of those who join with us today in petitioning congress and in nonviolent protest of injustice.  May their trust in you and in the basic fairness of this country be rewarded.

In your name we pray.

Quote of the Day: John McCullough

Prayer at capitol"I am reminded of the parable of the persistent widow and the stubborn judge taught to us by Jesus — an immigrant himself. In Luke 18, Jesus tells the story of a judge who had no fear of God and no respect for the people, but a persistent widow kept coming to him, seeking justice. After many refusals from the judge, the determination and consistency of the widow won out as the judge says "...because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming." This parable teaches us that God will grant justice, and that we are to be like the widow, faithfully seeking out justice from those in power. God will never forsake us, and we can never stop pursuing justice."

—John McCullough, president and CEO of Church World Service, in "One Government Activity Continues: 1,100+ Deportations a Day," an Oct. 3 Huffington Post Religion blog post.

There are several events scheduled throughout October to urge members of the House of Representatives to take up immigration reform legislation, including Church World Service's Global Summit on Immigration Reform starting today You can follow the event on Twitter using the hashtags  #immigrationsummit and #timeisnow.

Photo from the Evangelical Immigration Table's Pray4Reform gathering, held on the U.S. Capitol grounds in June. (Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World)

Advocates Call for Comprehensive Immigration Reform in the House

Photo from the Evangelical Immigration Table's Pray4Reform gathering, held on the U.S. Capitol grounds in June. (Joseph Mollieri/Bread for the World)

By Michelle Gilligan

Four years of “off and on” efforts by the "Gang of Seven" in the House to function as a bipartisan voice for comprehensive immigration reform have effectively come to an end. Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) and Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas) announced in a joint statement last week that they are withdrawing from the Gang of Seven negotiations, leaving only one Republican in the group.  In the absence of agreement on a comprehensive approach, the House is likely to act on immigration issues through a piecemeal process.

In spite of the breakup of the Gang of Seven, there is still hope that some reforms will be enacted. House Republican leaders are seeking to pass several immigration bills of more limited scope. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, explained that this series of smaller House bills is expected to come to the House floor in October. Goodlatte said that the content of the various pieces of legislation still has some details to be worked out, adding, “We don’t know what this bill is going to look like…but whether it’s a legal status or whether it includes a legal status and then a way to earn citizenship through education, military service, or types of employment, whatever the case may be, all of this is being discussed.”

Since the immigration issue is still before Congress, many faith-based advocacy groups are gathering together to make a final push for common-sense immigration reform in 2013. On Oct. 7 and 8 at the CWS Global Summit on Immigration Reform,  faith leaders and activists from across the country will advocate for comprehensive reform of the U.S. immigration system. The summit will be held at National City Christian Church in Washington, D.C., where more than 200 priests, lay leaders, and grassroots organizers will come together to discuss the pertinent issues related to immigration reform.

Over the course of the two days, participants will divide into denominational teams to hold dialogues on a variety of questions. One significant theme will be the importance of building stronger and more welcoming communities for immigrants. In addition to the team dialogues, there will also be presentations by guest speakers, among them several refugees who have volunteered to share their personal stories.

October will be an important month for immigration reform legislation in the House since the House Judiciary Committee is likely to address the issue after several months of inactivity. Faith advocates will continue to play a key role in the outcome of this year’s immigration debates. 

Michelle Gilligan is the immigration policy intern at Bread for the World Institute.

Immigration Reform Goes Home

SCREEN GRAB-eyes-500px (2)
A photo of Jose, who came to the United States when he was 17 and is living in this country without legal authorization. During August's congressional recesss, legislators will return to their home districts to hear from their constituents on the next steps for immigration reform (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World).

By Andrew Wainer

The locus of the immigration debate moves from the Capitol to town halls across the country this week as legislators go home to hear from their constituents on the next steps for reform.

On the Republican side, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) sent House Republicans into the August recess with a detailed memo advising them how to talk about immigration reform with voters back home.

The “Immigration Resource Kit” provides talking points for lawmakers, among other August recess tools. Representatives enter the recess with no clear path forward on immigration, although Republican leaders are indicating that some legislative remedy for undocumented immigrants is being formulated.

Influential GOP Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is also emerging as a leading proponent for a path to legalization for unauthorized immigrants. Ryan has indicated that he supports some path to legalization for immigrants.

Proponents of a less restrictive path to legalization for immigrants, akin to the bill passed in the Senate this summer, will also be working “in-district” this August.  Organizing for Action (OFA) will include immigration reform as part of its major advocacy push in August  (another focus will be generating support for the president’s health-care law).

The August recess will certainly be important in terms of influencing representatives’ views on immigration, but the House is unlikely to actually take up legislation on immigration before October. In the meantime, advocates – including faith-based advocates – will be making the case for immigration reform both in and outside Washington.

Andrew Wainer is Bread for the World Institute's immigration policy analyst.

The Time for Immigration Reform is Now

Pray_for_reform_gatheringBy David Beckmann

Today, I’m meeting with members of Congress, calling on them to pass an immigration reform bill that creates a path out of poverty for hard-working families. We will be joined by hundreds of evangelical leaders gathering in Washington to pray and take action for reform. Amplify my voice and the voice of all these other faith leaders by asking your representative to support an immigration reform bill that is rooted in biblical teachings.

Our faith calls upon us to care for our neighbors and speak out on behalf of those in need. Undocumented immigrants in the United States disproportionately experience hunger — and many are driven to the United States by hunger and poverty in their countries of origin. That is why Congress must approach immigration as a hunger issue, both in this country and abroad.

Compassionate and inclusive reform will reduce hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world, create jobs, and help reduce the national deficit.

Call or email your U.S. representative and urge passage of an immigration reform bill that includes a path to citizenship. Use our toll-free number: 1-800-326-4941.

You can learn more about immigration reform and Bread's position here.

David Beckmann is president of Bread for the World.

Photo: Bread for the World and other organizations participated in a Pray4Reform prayer vigil for just immigration reform in Washington, D.C., on June 27, 2013. (Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World).

Praying for Our Indifference: Pope Francis

Martha praying at gathering - Rick Reinhart
An attendee of Bread for the World's Lobby Day, a part of our National Gathering, in Washington D.C., on June 11, 2013  (Rick Reinhard/Bread for the World).

"Lord, in this liturgy, a penitential liturgy, we beg forgiveness for our indifference to so many of our brothers and sisters. Father, we ask your pardon for those who are complacent and closed amid comforts which have deadened their hearts; we beg your forgiveness for those who by their decisions on the global level have created situations that lead to these tragedies. Forgive us, Lord!"

The excerpt above is from homily delivered by Pope Francis on July 8, 2013 in Lampedusa, Italy. It references Genesis 4, in which God asks, "Where is your brother, Abel?"

Lampedusa is a Mediterranean island and the primary entry point for migrants, mainly from Africa, into Europe. Pope Francis laments the loss of life that can be the result of the dangerous journey many migrants embark on as they flee dire poverty in Africa and elsewhere. His powerful homily also addresses a lack of compassion that is too often shown in regard to the suffering of immigrants.

"In this globalized world, we have fallen into globalized indifference," Pope Francis preaches on the lack of solidarity with the vulnerable. "We have become used to the suffering of others: it doesn’t affect me, it doesn’t concern me, it’s none of my business!"

As the House of Representatives decides how to move forward on an immigration reform bill, Bread for the World urges legislators to include provisions that address the poverty and hunger that drive migration. By creating a path to citizenship, hunger and poverty in the Unites States will be reduced as 11 million undocumented immigrants come out of the shadows. 

Poor migrants from North Africa are willing to risk crossing from Tunisia to Lampedusa in small boats that are often overcrowded and unsafe. While visiting the island, the pontiff laid a wreath in the water for those who have perished on the journey—a story similar to that of those who risk border crossing in the southern United States to escape hunger in their home countries. Pope Francis wonders if we have become a society void of compassion. "Has any one of us wept because of this situation and others like it?" he asks. "Has any one of us grieved for the death of these brothers and sisters?"

As Christians, the suffering of others is our business. God's question echoes today: "Where is your brother?" How will you respond?

You can learn more about the root causes of migration and Bread for the World's position on immigration reform here. Take action here and join us and other organizations as we #Pray4reform next Wednesday, July 24, in Washington D.C.

From Comprehensive to Incremental Immigration Reform

Pray4reformJune27By Andrew Wainer

After moving fast through the Senate, immigration reform now looks to be facing a slower, incremental policymaking process in the House of Representatives.

The House Republican Caucus confirmed at a meeting July 10 that it will not take up the comprehensive Senate bill. Instead, it will break the provisions into different bills. The process of considering and voting on the bills is likely to take the rest of the year and perhaps beyond. The House is unlikely to address immigration until the fall, when it will likely vote on several bills that have already been reported out of the Judiciary and Homeland Security committees.

Thus far, House Republicans have focused on bills that cover border and internal security and agricultural and high-skill workers, while rejecting the comprehensive approach taken by the Senate.

Reps. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) are also working on a Republican version of the DREAM Act called the KIDS Act, which would provide a path to legalization for young immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children.

“It is time to provide an opportunity for legal residence and citizenship for those who were brought to this country as children and who know no other home,” Cantor said during a speech at the American Enterprise Institute in February.

But Democrats and immigration advocates are unlikely to support reform that provides legalization only for young immigrants. Right now, there is significant space between where reform advocates want to go with legislation and what Republican House members are willing to do.

The next several months will determine whether this chasm can be crossed.

Andrew Wainer is Bread for the World Institute's immigration policy analyst.

Photo: Bread for the World and other organizations participated in a Pray4Reform prayer vigil for just immigration reform in Washington, D.C., on June 27, 2013. (Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World).

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