Food Insecurity: The Intersection Between Domestic and Immigration Policy

Rev. Reuben Eckels | July 26, 2023

The latest data released from the Census Bureau Household PULSE Survey has revealed concerning disparities in rates of food insufficiency based on race and ethnicity. In June 2023, 17.3% of Latinx households and 21.4% of Black households experienced food insufficiency compared to 8.8% of White households.

While the survey did not address immigration status, other research has indicated that immigrants are more likely to face food insecurity compared to their American-born counterparts. This discrepancy can be attributed to various structural factors, including systemic racism in the U.S. immigration system, that disproportionately affect immigrant families.

The data clearly demonstrate a need to connect eligible households with federal nutrition and benefit programs and to prioritize the inclusion of immigrants and their families. These essential programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, provide essential access to nutritious food for families.

Advocates can make a significant impact by increasing awareness of the eligibility criteria for SNAP and other benefits among low-income households, particularly those with immigrant backgrounds, and addressing the complexity of these programs by combatting misinformation within communities to ensure all eligible families have access to the support they need to thrive.

Alongside our partners, CWS is inviting advocates to sign the Lift the Bar Act and a sign-on letter to oppose the Congressional Review Act to repeal the Biden Administration’s public charge regulations.

The Lift the Bar Act aims to remove the bar that disqualified adults from participating in SNAP and other vital programs, restore access to critical programs for eligible adults and address barriers that deny access to those lawfully residing in the United States. The Congressional Review Act sign-on letter opposes any changes to the public charge rule that explicitly states that participation in SNAP, Medicaid and housing programs would not affect certain non-citizen applications for lawful permanent resident status.

Addressing food insecurity requires a comprehensive approach that recognizes the intersection between domestic and immigration policy. By providing accessible information about federal nutrition and benefit programs, advocating for policy changes and supporting immigrant families, we can work towards a more equitable food secure country.

Reverand Reuben Eckels is a Policy Advocate at Church World Service.