Illegal immigrants are critical to harvesting the country’s fruit and vegetables, working in meat-processing plants, and supporting the dairy industry. But that doesn’t prevent them from suffering some of the nation’s highest hunger and poverty rates.
Although national statistics are scarce, regional studies show that ffood insecurity surpasses 50 percent in some rural immigrant communities (compared to the U.S. national rate of 16 percent). A 2006 study in North Carolina found that 73 percent of the immigrant Latinos surveyed said they “worried whether our food would run out before we got money to buy more.”
Illegal immigrants and their children also suffer from high rates of poverty. More than one in five (21 percent) of all illegal immigrants live in poverty, and one-third of the children of illegal immigrants—most of whom are citizens—are impoverished.