"While they earn more money in the United States than in their home countries, unauthorized immigrants suffer disproportionately from food insecurity and poverty once they arrive. While legal immigrants, refugees, and guest workers all face challenges, no group of immigrants is more harmed by hunger and poverty than those without documentation." from Immigration, Hunger and Opportunity, Bread for the World Institute and Bread for the World
How do you measure food insecurity among immigrants, refugees and people seeking asylum in the United States? Each of these groups faces a different set of circumstances. Yet, they have something in common. They came to our country to improve their circumstances or to escape from an unbearable situation. Agencies like Catholic Charities and Lutheran Family Services provide a support system for refugees and asylees, although this does not necessarily solve their hunger problems.
|Photo: Bread for the World (Laura Pohl)|
The biggest challenge is for undocumented immigrants. "While they earn more money in the United States than in their home countries, unauthorized immigrants suffer disproportionately from food insecurity and poverty once they arrive. While legal immigrants, refugees, and guest workers all face challenges, no group of immigrants is more harmed by hunger and poverty than those without documentation," said the report. Here is the link to the report (in PDF format)
The video above tells the story of one immigrant, which is one of a set of videos on hunger an immigration that Bread for the World produced in recent years.
Data Collected from Several Small Studies
|Photo: Food Research and Action Center|
"In these studies, estimates of food insecurity vary greatly, depending on the population focus, with most estimates ranging between 30 and 60 percent, though rates as high as 80 percent have been documented among some vulnerable farmworkers in the southwest U.S.," said the report.
"It is also important to note that some studies identify participants as foreign-born without indicating whether they are refugees or asylees. This makes it challenging to estimate food insecurity among these similar, but different, groups."
Here are some highlights from the report
- Research conducted by Children’s HealthWatch demonstrates high rates of food insecurity among foreign-born households with children in its five research sites, a particularly vulnerable group. For example, in a study of Mexican, Central American, and Caribbean mothers compared to U.S.-born mothers, rates of household food insecurity among foreign-born mothers were significantly higher – 46 percent for families with Mexican mothers, 30 percent for Central American mothers, and 31 percent for Caribbean mothers, compared to 16 percent for families with U.S.-born mothers.
- Rates of child food insecurity were notably different among four groups --- 34 percent among families with Mexican mothers, 19 percent for those with Central American mothers, and 18 percent for those with Caribbean mothers, compared to 6 percent among families with U.S.-born mothers.
- Similarly, in a large study of 44,919 mothers with young children, 23.7 percent of the foreign-born mothers reported some level of food insecurity compared to just 12.7 percent of U.S.-born mothers. In this study, among young children with foreign-born mothers, the odds of food insecurity were more than three times as great as compared to young children with U.S.-born mothers.
"Because a substantial percentage of undocumented immigrants in the United States lives in poverty and because legalization would help them escape hunger, immigration reform fits [our domestic agenda], said Bread for the World. "We advocate for legislation that ensures a place at the table for everyone in the United States, regardless of legal status. And we anticipate that hundreds of thousands of people would be lifted out of hunger and poverty almost immediately if they are given a pathway to citizenship."
"Immigration reform also fits Bread’s international agenda. We add specific value to the immigration reform discussion by focusing on its root causes: hunger and poverty in home countries. Our longstanding advocacy for poverty-focused development assistance is one way that we help moderate the flow of immigrants to the United States," added Bread for the World.