Unfinished Business

Civil Rights News: Ending Hunger No Longer a Shared Goal in Washington; Suburban Poverty Rising; Migrant Deaths at Border Increasing

Compiled by Monica We, a Spring 2013 at The Leadership Conference Education Fund.

There Was a Time When Ending Hunger Was a National Goal for Republicans and Democrats

Dorothy Samuels
The New York Times – Opinion

The House Agricultural Committee recently approved a bill that would cut food stamp programs by $20 billion over the next ten years, much to the chagrin of Democrat Representatives. With the 2009 temporary food stamp assistance ending in November, this bill would exacerbate poverty rates across the country, eliminating vital programs, such as free school lunches for children. Dorothy Samuels contrasts today’s party politics surrounding the issue of poverty with how it was in the past, when Republican and Democratic leaders pursued a unified campaign to end hunger. Richard Nixon declared in May 1969 “that hunger and malnutrition should persist in a land such as ours is embarrassing and intolerable.” Samuels argues that the nation needs to restore its bipartisan fight against poverty.

Advocates Struggle to Reach Growing Ranks of Suburban Poor

Pam Fessler

As the population of the suburban poor has been rising since the 2000s, advocates are just now shifting their focus from primarily urban areas towards this demographic. The suburban poor bore the brunt of the Great Recession, with the housing crisis, mass layoffs, and lower wages, which plagued even the more affluent regions, such as Montgomery County, Md. Since then, social welfare organizations have set up community centers and other resources that make social services more accessible for those who need it and may not be used to seeking benefit programs. However, the stark reality of these communities must reach the radar of more advocates  in order to curb the rate of suburban poverty.

Arizona Desert Swallows Migrants on Riskier Paths

Fernanda Santos and Rebekah Zemansky
The New York Times

The number immigrant deaths while crossing the US-Mexican border has drastically increased in recent years. Pima County, in Tuscan, Arizona, has the “nation’s largest collection of missing-person reports for immigrants who have vanished.” This alarming statistic sheds light on  the severe human rights violations immigrants are currently facing and the desperate need for comprehensive immigration reform legislation .  As border security has tightened in recent years, immigrants have resorted to riskier routes that involve harsher climates and more dangerous smuggling arrangements. In an effort to facilitate the identification of the bodies, the Medical Examiner’s Office in Tuscan obtained a mapping database that stores information about these deceased immigrants. Although the database has made it easier to piece together a person’s remains, identifying the bodies for friends and families continues to be a challenge.