Despite unprecedented levels of U.S. government spending on guarding the border with Mexico, unauthorized or illegal immigration into the United States continues. Here, there are millions of jobs that legal workers do not fill—even in times of recession. Poverty and hardship are the main drivers pushing Latin Americans to search for better lives in the United States. New research from Bread for the World Institute, “Development and Migration in Rural Mexico,” examines the links between poverty and inequality in rural Mexico and unauthorized immigration.
“Hunger and poverty, the driving forces of unauthorized migration to the United States, are often overlooked in the immigration debate,” said Andrew Wainer, immigration policy analyst for Bread for the World Institute. “In order to comprehensively address immigration reform policies, the United States needs to implement foreign assistance projects that promote development.”
“Development and Migration in Rural Mexico” highlights the For a Just Market project in Mexico’s Chihuahua region. Its goal was to increase rural incomes and create jobs for small apple farmers. The project effectively decreased poverty and migration to the United States by promoting agricultural development and supplying technical assistance to small farmers.
“More than half of rural Mexicans live in poverty and 25 percent live in extreme poverty,” added Wainer. “Research shows that agriculture is one of the best returns on investment in terms of reducing poverty. Investing in Mexico’s small farmers will generate rural employment and reduce poverty and migration.”
Most estimates suggest there are between 10.8 million and 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States. The bulk—80 percent—come from Latin America; Mexico alone is the source of at least 60 percent of the United States’ unauthorized immigrants.
To learn more about the links between hunger, poverty, and unauthorized immigration, visit Bread for the World