SubscribeSubscribe to this blog's feed
104 posts categorized "Immigration"
Immigration reform momentum has slowed in recent weeks as 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.”
But even as reform was put on the legislative back-burner, there is a growing general consensus in public opinion and in Congress about how to move forward. Even after indicating that immigration would not be among House Republican legislative priorities early this year, both President Obama and Boehner said that during a rare hour-long face-to-face meeting at the White House, the issue they most agreed upon was immigration. But for Congress and the public, the devil is in the details.
Recent poling from the Pew Research Center shows broad support for the general outlines of some of the most controversial components of reform. For example almost three-fourths of respondents (73 percent) said that “immigrants living in the United States illegally should have a way to stay legally.”
But the broad agreement among the public breaks down when it comes to what type of legal status qualifying unauthorized immigrants should be granted. Almost half of all respondents (46 percent) said that immigrants should be granted a path to citizenship while about a quarter (24 percent) said they should be eligible to apply only for permanent residency status. The remaining quarter of respondents said that unauthorized immigrants should not be allowed to stay in the United States at all.
This also reflects the divides among policymakers. While Democrats generally support immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants, Republicans have proposed a path to legalization for most immigrants with no "special path to citizenship."
The Republican principles on immigration reform that allowed for a general legalization of unauthorized immigrants was a major step toward building a bipartisan consensus. But bridging the details among the public and the political parties on the path forward for unauthorized immigrants will be one of many thorny policy details that will be at the forefront of discussion and debate during 2014.
Ofelio prepares Tamales in his kitchen. (Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World)
Ofelio left his home in rural Mexico almost 30 years ago with no family in the United States, no knowledge of English, but a strong work ethic and determination to find a better life. He hasn't been able to return to Mexico for more than 20 years, even though his parents, both in their 80s, would like to see him for what would likely be the last time. He still wonders if it was a mistake to come to the United States. Like most immigrants, he wanted the things for his children that are harder to come by in much of Latin America: a secure home, plentiful food, and an education to prepare them for success. He did find some of these things in the United States, but it cost him dearly in health and well-being.
Ofelio’s first job in the United States was washing dishes in a New York City restaurant at a sub-minimum wage. To keep his job he was expected to work seven days a week, 12 hours a day with no sick days, vacation time, or promise of job security. His employers often asked him to work extra hours without pay. He knew that if he objected they wouldn’t think twice about replacing him. Ten years of life on poverty level wages drove Ofelio into a state of deep depression that he says almost killed him.
Ofelio started making tamales out of his home nine years ago for people at his largely Latino church. After a few months, he was getting orders on a regular basis, and the prospect of making a living from tamales grew as he built up a client base in the city’s Latino community. With a lot of hard work and the help of a local nonprofit, Ofelio was able to obtain all of the necessary permits and certifications to legitimize his catering business. He now has insurance, a bank account, and even a website and business cards. As a single father of three, Ofelio knows that the business is his family’s lifeline, and his income still provides little more than essential needs. He combines tamale order drop-offs with school pick-ups and prepares tamales and family meals in the same kitchen.
If you ask Ofelio about his ideas for the future of his business, his eyes light up. He has many, like renting a commercial kitchen to increase production, purchasing a delivery vehicle, and hiring full-time help. Beyond the business, he’d love to take classes to improve his English and be able to provide quality childcare for his two youngest daughters. These kinds of investments are only possible with the help of a business loan. But Ofelio has been denied that help from banks, which deem his business too small and too much of a risk. Without access to capital, Ofelio has no means of moving his business—and his family—beyond just barely making it.
A federal bond program established under the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 authorized the issuance of long-term bonds at low-interest rates to fund community development finance institutions (CDFIs), which in turn provide small loans to businesses like Ofelio’s. The program was supposed to operate from 2011 to 2014, but was held up in Congress for more than two years pending approval on how it should be run. The delay resulted in $2 billion less in loans to support entrepreneurs like Ofelio. Congress should have moved more quickly and the administration should have been a stronger advocate for the program to overcome the delays. Entrepreneurs in low-income communities are the bedrock of the workforce. Investing in them grows opportunity for all of us and enables more people to work their own way out of poverty and hunger.
Fostering micro-entrepreneurship is one critical piece of the 2014 Hunger Report’s jobs agenda—the first pivotal step toward reversing record hunger rates in America.
In the final weeks of 2013, activists for immigration and labor rights, many of them faith-based, kept up the pressure for immigration reform. An initiative that garnered significant media coverage was“Fast for Families” on the National Mall. It was launched November 12 with a morning press conference and evening prayer vigil and concluded December 12 with peaceful protests in the offices of U.S. representatives. At the launch, prominent leaders spoke of the moral crisis caused by our country’s broken immigration system and its impact on millions of families. Many speakers made a commitment to participate in the fast.
During each day of the fast, participants refrained from eating until after sundown. The goal of the fast was to “send a clear and visible message to Congress” that the current immigration system needs to be fixed. According to Rev. Noel Anderson, a grassroots organizer for immigrant rights with Church World Service, the fast brought attention to the fact that millions of families are being separated as a result of our broken immigration system. “Millions live in daily fear that their mom, dad, sister, or brother could be detained or deported,” he said. “We are at a point where we have to escalate our efforts, expose the injustice, and engage the heart of our country.”
Eliseo Medina, secretary-treasurer of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), said that he was personally motivated to fast. “Doing without food will not be easy, and I know that I will suffer physical hunger. But there is a deeper hunger within us,” Medina said. “A hunger for an end to a system that creates such misery among those that come here to escape poverty and violence in search of the American dream, yet too often find death or mistreatment.”
On December 12, at the conclusion of the fast, more than 1,000 advocates fanned out through the office buildings of the House of Representatives at midday, occupying the offices of more than 170 Republican and four Democratic lawmakers for about an hour. In the office of Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, the second-ranking House Republican, half a dozen protesters sat on the carpet, chanting and praying. The Rev. Carmelo Santos, a Lutheran pastor from Springfield, VA, prayed in English and Spanish for Rep. Cantor to “find his way to a good compromise” to provide a path to citizenship for more than 11 million immigrants who are in the country illegally.
Bread for the World emphasizes the role of immigration as an exodus from hunger and poverty. Because poverty is more common among unauthorized immigrants than others in the United States, ranging from 21 percent to 35 percentimmigration reform would help reduce U.S. hunger and poverty.
A fresh Hunger Report always comes with a new weekly blog series to break it down -- a space to examine the recommendations more closely and consider their ramifications in the context of recent events. This is that space. Welcome to week one.
To start the 2014 Hunger Report Monday series, we're recapping -- through visuals -- the report's central recommendation: to put an end to hunger in the United States by 2030. Our research confirms that: 1) hunger is a significant, long-ignored problem in America; 2) the U.S. government and population are fully capable of solving the problem; and 3), ending hunger will take decisive leadership, firm political will, and a clear national plan. This infographic sums up our vision of what that plan should look like in four steps:
We will not achieve a lasting end to hunger without a commitment to all four parts of this plan. Because problems like hunger are multifaceted, their solutions must be as well. Policies tend to address social problems in isolation from each other. Instead we should be thinking holistically, which makes it possible to see the relationships between various causes of the problem.
Right now, Bread for the World members around the country are urging the president and Congress to recognize the reality of America's broken social contract and set a clear course for solutions by adopting a plan to end hunger. President Obama took a promising first step last week with his speech on the problem of widening income and wealth inequality in the United States, with mentions of such contributing factors as the stagnant minimum wage, which continues to hold low-wage workers and their families below the poverty line. Inequality and the policies that perpetuate it are top concerns of this year’s Hunger Report.
You can sift through the specifics of the four-step plan to end hunger by starting with the 2014 Hunger Report Executive Summary, available for download in PDF or ebook formats in both English and Spanish. Next week, we'll continue our visual survey of the report's top messages with other new infographics.
The 2014 Hunger Report, Ending Hunger in America, was launched just before Thanksgiving. For the past month, Institute Notes has featured a series of posts offering previews of the report. We pointed out that widespread hunger now threatens to become a scandalous “new normal” situation in the United States – it’s risen by nearly 40 percent since 2000.We made the case that not only is it an achievable goal to undo the damage the Great Recession did to U.S. food security, but it is also feasible to eradicate hunger entirely by 2030. We presented a carefully researched four-step plan that leaders at all levels, in partnership with local communities, can use to end hunger in our country. Our most recent post, coinciding with the report launch on November 25, offers a brief recap of these four steps.
In just the few days since the launch, we’ve received a lot of feedback -- on the launch presentation, the report, and the exciting new ways we’re presenting its messages on hungerreport.org. Here’s a quick round-up of what our partners and friends have been talking about:
1. An Expert Panel of Perspectives
No one has more authority to speak on hunger in America than those who have experienced it. At the Hunger Report launch, panelists Barbie Izquierdo, Dominic Duren, and Sharon Thornberry helped humanize the effects of even a seemingly small change in policy or funding.
2. No Paper Needed
The executive summary is available for iPad and eReader download, and the entire report can now be read in page-flipping book format at hungerreport.org/downloads.
3. Interactive Stories
The policies examined in the 2014 Hunger Report have very real impact for millions of Americans. At hungerreport.org/profiles we present four stories that combine multimedia and interactive data to make that clearer than ever.
4. Infographics to Share
Hunger’s causes and solutions are complex. That’s why we need the full report to give them the space they deserve. But a good place to start is with the 2014 Hunger Report infographics -- to get the top messages of the report in bite-size form, and pass them on through social media.
The panel of speakers at the launch agreed that it doesn’t have to be this way. Ending hunger is not an impossible dream. With strong commitment and the right tools, we really can end it.
Check out HungerReport.org to explore all of the tools available to Hunger Report readers, and if you missed them, be sure to read blog posts one, two, three, four, and five of the 2014 Hunger Report series.
Posted by Bread on December 02, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Gender, Global Hunger, Hunger Report, Immigration, Inequality, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Development Goals, Religion and Hunger, Trade, U.S. Hunger, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Amid the debate over potentially the biggest reform of immigration law in 50 years, American communities struggling with decades of population loss and economic decline are being revitalized by newcomers. The economic contribution of immigrants in high-skilled fields is relatively well known, but less acknowledged are the contributions that blue-collar immigrants play in revitalizing depressed communities and economies, both as manual laborers and small-business entrepreneurs.
In Rust Belt communities such as Baltimore, Detroit, and rural southeastern Iowa, immigration has slowed—and in some cases reversed—decades of population loss. In July 2012, after 60 years of population decline, Baltimore’s population actually increased, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The increase was attributed in part to growing international migration. Detroit is infamous for its steep population decline since 1950.
But the drop would be even more significant if it were not for an influx of immigrants from Latin America. Between 2000 and 2010, Detroit lost 237,000 residents— 25 percent of the total population in just 10 years. But the city’s southwest immigrant neighborhoods, an area known as “Mexicantown,” actually increased in population.
Immigration isn’t revitalizing only cities; newcomers also inject life into rural American communities that might otherwise be vanishing. Rural Iowa has lost population every decade since 1920 – in fact, there are fewer people in rural Iowa now than there were a century ago. But immigrants have sustained some towns. Between 2000 and 2010, Iowa’s Latino population increased by 84 percent, while the total state population increased only 4 percent over the same decade. As other cities in southeastern Iowa have declined, towns such as West Liberty (population 3,742) have a stable population and economy because of immigrants.
In addition to supporting communities that are experiencing overall population loss, immigrants are making disproportionate contributions to Rust Belt economies, particularly to Rust Belt cities such as Detroit, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis.
As they have throughout much of U.S. history, immigrants make up a disproportionate share of our country’s entrepreneurs. Their business initiative is evident in some Rust Belt commercial corridors, where immigrant entrepreneurs large and small contribute dynamism and innovation to the economy. While immigrants are 13 percent of the national population and 16 percent of the labor force, they comprise 18 percent of small business owners. Nationally, immigrant-owned small businesses employ 4.7 million people and generate $776 billion in income. Immigrants’ propensity for business ownership is even more pronounced in the Rust Belt than in the country as a whole.
In order to realize their full potential economic impact on the Rust Belt, unauthorized immigrants need legalization and a path to citizenship. Without this, they live in a climate of fear even as they help struggling U.S. cities and towns survive. It is up to national policymakers to reform our immigration system so that newcomers can support their families and make a fuller economic contribution to the nation – particularly to the cities and towns that need it most.
The world produces lots of food, and on World Food Day (today—October 16) that seems like something we should be celebrating.
The global hunger rate is falling. Indeed, that’s good news. But it’s not because we’re producing more food. We produce more than enough to feed everyone, and have been doing so for some time.
Hunger is rarely about there not being enough food. It’s almost always about being too poor to afford food. The big reason hunger is going down is because economic growth in developing countries means that other opportunities besides subsistence farming have become available, making it possible for these farm families to escape a life of poverty. Subsistence farmers and their families make up the largest share of people who are hungry. When you have no other way to earn enough to buy food, you grow it yourself to eat and try to sell whatever’s left.
There are billions of people around the world who depend on subsistence farming. World Food Day should be a moment to reflect on the people who produce food. The number of farmers who are actually making a decent living may number a few million. I doubt it’s that high.
Instead of romanticizing them, especially subsistence farmers, we may want to stop and reflect on how many would rather be doing something else if they had a choice. It’s not much different in rich countries than in poor. The reason people left agriculture in America was because it was never much of a way to make a living in the first place. Yes, mechanization (more so than policy) meant you had to “get big or get out,” to quote one of our former Secretaries of Agriculture, but people were already leaving the farm in droves decades earlier when more opportunities sprung up thanks to economic growth.
The U.S. food system is much bigger than farmers, and I’m afraid I don’t have a lot of good things to say about it. Ironically, the system we’ve developed to ensure food is cheap and plentiful for most people in the country also contributes a fair share to the hunger in the country.
The World Bank released its 2014 World Development Report (WDR) last week. Previously, “risk management” was not a commonly-heard phrase in global development, but the WDR makes a good case for why it should be. As the world — developing regions especially — anticipates economic crises and more frequent natural disasters in the context of a rapidly rising population, the World Bank argues that people now more than ever need to be better prepared to cope with whatever the future may bring.
Over the past 25 years, there has been unprecedented progress in improving livelihoods in developing countries. Driven by global efforts such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), national and international leaders have joined with partners across civil society, the private sector, and local communities to identify and carry out effective strategies. The world has met the MDG target of cutting the rate of extreme poverty in half. Other measurements of the eight MDGs also reveal considerable progress. But the World Bank warns that these advancements could easily be lost if national governments do not take decisive steps to identify and prepare to mitigate both existing and emerging risks. New risks are, however, accompanied by a host of new opportunities. Inaction may be the riskiest option of all.
Even after the unprecedented efforts of the past few years, more than half of the population of the developing world lives on less than $2.50 a day. And as we mentioned in Institute Notes last week, there are still 842 million people who are chronically hungry. All are vulnerable to falling deeper into poverty, hunger, and poor health when confronted with economic and environmental shocks or armed conflict.
The focus of this year’s WDR is on reliable information and sound planning. In its own words:
The WDR 2014’s value added resides in its emphasis on managing risks in a proactive, systemic, and integrated way. These characteristics underscore the importance of forward-looking planning and preparation in a context of uncertainty.
Other major players in global development concur with the WDR assessment. For example, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has just released its Global Hunger Index, which argues that greater resilience in international agricultural and economic systems is critical to boosting food and nutrition security.In her recently launched briefing paper, Bread for the World Institute’s Faustine Wabwire also stresses the importance of resilience in whatever post-2015 plan emergesto replace the MDGs. Preparing more effectively for the future – whether in the United States or in developing countries – is (not coincidentally) a major emphasis of our 2014 Hunger Report, Ending Hunger in America, to be released on November 25. Keep a lookout for upcoming Institute Notes posts with more details on this exciting new report as that date approaches!
Posted by Bread on October 15, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Hotspots, Hunger Report, Immigration, Inequality, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Challenge Account, Millennium Development Goals, Religion and Hunger, Trade, U.S. Hunger, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) issued its annual report on food security this month. Its conclusions reinforce a growing consensus: immigration reduces hunger.
The role of immigrant remittances (the money immigrants send home to their families) in
reducing hunger and poverty in their home countries was one of the key points of the FAO report, The State of Food Insecurity in the World. The report points out that not only are remittances important to reducing hunger and poverty, in many cases they play a larger role in reducing poverty than foreign assistance.
In some countries, remittances now rival foreign direct investment in overall importance to the economy, and in the near future, this may be true of developing countries in general (see graphic above).
This is how the report’s executive summary describes the impact of remittances:
“Remittances, which have globally become three times larger than official development assistance, have had significant impacts on poverty and food security. This report suggests that remittances can help to reduce poverty, leading to reduced hunger, better diets and, given appropriate policies, increased on-farm investment.”
Remittances not only enable the families of people working outside the country to pay for the food, shelter, clothing, and health care they need, but in some cases have increased small-scale investment, including in agriculture. The State of Food Insecurity in the World reports that this is “particularly beneficial to growth where food production and distribution still rely on small-scale and local networks. This holds in particular for sub-Saharan African countries.”
Bread for the World Institute has analyzed the impact of remittances on poverty in Central America and the potential these resources hold for creating jobs and promoting economic development. Our analysis finds that it is useful for remittances to be complemented by development assistance programs that build capacity in recipient communities so that people can more effectively invest the money sent to them—including in agriculture and other food security efforts.
The FAO report emphasizes that there is no single solution to hunger. It will take a variety of strategies to eliminate hunger and poverty—development assistance, public-private partnerships, and indigenous economic development are only a few examples. But The State of Food Insecurity in the World highlights the key role of remittances—and immigration broadly—in reducing hunger and driving economic growth in both developing and developed nations.
This morning with the release of its annual report, The State of Food Insecurity in the World (SOFI), the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced a continued drop in the number of people suffering from chronic hunger. The new figure is 842 million, which is 26 million fewer people than last year’s report of 868 million.
This improvement offers additional evidence that the global response to the 2007-2008 food price crisis – a response that included a U.S. pledge of $3.5 billion for food security, agriculture, and nutrition and led to the establishment of Feed the Future – helped prevent a longer-term reversal of global progress against hunger and is contributing to current progress on hunger. The food price crisis, during which the costs of staple grains such as rice and maize suddenly doubled or tripled, is believed to have driven an additional 100 million people into poverty.
FAO reports that if the average progress of the past 21 years continues through 2015, malnutrition in developing regions will reach a level close to the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of reducing hunger by half, but “considerable and immediate additional efforts” will be necessary to fully meet the goal. The report recommends that food security and agriculture remain targeted priorities on the post-MDG, post-2015 development agenda in order to sustain progress.
The SOFI report also notes:
- In some countries, there are many more stunted children than the data on how many people lack sufficient calories would suggest. Because stunting is evidence of chronic malnutrition in early childhood and is accompanied by irreversible damage to a child’s physical and cognitive development, “nutrition-enhancing interventions are crucial” and require a range of food security and nutrition actions in areas such as agriculture, health, hygiene, and water supply.
- The most significant decreases in hunger have occurred in East and Southeast Asia and in Latin America. Sub-Saharan Africa still has the highest hunger rates. Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and North Africa made only modest progress over the past year, while West Asia recorded no progress.
- Though economic growth is a key driver of progress against hunger and poverty, it is not always equitably shared. In many countries, particularly middle-income countries, people who are among the “poorest of the poor” are in danger of being left behind.
You can access the full SOFI report, the executive summary, and the most recent country-level data for every indicator here at the SOFI webpage on FAO’s website.
Posted by Bread on October 01, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Hunger Hotspots, Hunger Report, Immigration, Inequality, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Challenge Account, Millennium Development Goals, Religion and Hunger, Trade, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Get updates on issues and actions to take on behalf of hungry people.