Development Works Number 3, July 2012

Number 3, July 2012 Development Works Bread for the World Institute provides policy analysis on hunger and strategies to end it. The Institute educates opinion leaders, policy makers and the public about hunger in the United States and abroad. Snapshot Laura Elizabeth Pohl • Undocumented immigrants frequently leave their families behind, go into debt to pay for difficult journeys, risk being victimized by organized gangs or dying of dehydration in the desert while attempting to cross the U.S. border, and are confined to lowpaying work because they do not have the legal right to work here. Development Assistance: A Key Part of the Immigration Puzzle This series, Development Works, focuses on effective international development assistance and why Americans should support it. At first glance, immigration may seem like a completely unrelated topic, since people tend to think of it mainly in terms of its impact inside the United States. For most of us, immigration is less about international policy than about hot-button national, state, and local political questions. The reality is that it is both a domestic and an international issue. To make the best decisions as a nation on the complex questions of immigration policy, we need to see both dimensions. The crux of the missing international half is “Why do immigrants leave their home country and come to the United States?” The common description of the United States as a “nation of immigrants” is, of course, quite accurate. From the time impoverished people in England paid for a fresh start in the American colonies by working as indentured servants, the 1 • Unauthorized immigrants, arriving from rural communities in Mexico and Central America, are primarily healthy people in their teens, twenties, or thirties. Yet poverty combined with lack of economic opportunity at home lead them to see migration to the United States as their best option. • U.S. immigration has both domestic and international dimensions. To make the best decisions on immigration policies, we need to consider how the U.S. assistance going to immigrants’ home countries can best contribute to lasting improvements in rural economies and living conditions. Development agencies are beginning to incorporate into their Latin American projects the easing of pressures to migrate.