IMMIGRATION & REFUGEES
“The protection of the right to food, as a human right, is for everyone in our community regardless of their citizenship or status."
12% of the population of the USA are people that are foreign-born
As of 2015, the average age of death of Washtenaw Latinos (58 years) is 17 younger than for Washtenaw Whites and six years younger than Blacks
In our county there are 43,000 foreign-born residents, 12% of the total population, some of whom lack formal up-to-date residency or citizenship documentation. Most of these individuals face the added challenges that come with dislocation and separation from social support systems and the barriers of acclimating to a new culture and a new language. These barriers by themselves create substantial hurdles that can impact food security. However the challenges of immigration are often exacerbated when an individual is undocumented. This status often prevents access to community resources and can create a culture of fear that can often be exploited. Any attempt to address hunger in our community cannot ignore this population which is among our most vulnerable.
Not only are undocumented immigrants among the most food insecure individuals in our community, but also their children, even those who are US born citizens. The rates of poverty for the US born children of undocumented parents is double that of those with US born parents. With the increasing diversity in our own community, we need to avoid deepening the scars of many of the most shameful chapters of American history. We must avoid falling prey to the xenophobia that allowed the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Mexican Repatriation Program, Japanese internment camps, the rejection of the MS St. Louis in 1939 carrying Jewish refugees, and other ethnophobic episodes. Instead we must first look at the innate dignity of the human persons in our midst and stand to protect their most basic human rights.