The intransigence of the U.S. House of Representatives on the immigration bill has created demonstrations throughout the nation’s capital. In California, grass roots groups continue their efforts as state legislation favorable to the immigration reform movement is passed. At the U.S. House, one group of prominent women organizers is joining hands in a prolonged demonstration to tell recalcitrant Congresspersons that women and children are the recipients of the unfairness imposed by current immigration laws and policies.
Women and children constitute three-quarters of all immigrants to the United States, but the debate has ignored that fact. For example, women make up 51 percent of United States immigrants but they get only about 28 percent of work visas. A great number of women work as housekeepers, nannies, and home health care workers. None of those workers are allotted work visas.
Women provide essential work in these crucial roles, but are given no rights under the immigration laws. Furthermore, they often are not paid formally and may not be able to prove their income. Most immigrant women enter the United States as dependents on their spouses’ visas and are prohibited from working.
This only prevents many women from contributing their considerable talents and skills. It makes their immigration status entirely dependent on another person. Ultimately, it requires an adjustment of status which itself is dependent on the spouse’s status, and can be a prolonged procedure extending for years.
An immigrant woman who is abused may refrain from reporting it due to fears of being herself deported. The protesting group is calling for women to have work visas in categories typically performed by women. These key organizers want to see a path to citizenship, families remaining together, protections against physical and work abuses, and other measures recognizing the integrity of women and children.
The Congressional members in the U.S. House of Representatives who are rejecting comprehensive reform are trying to consider piecemeal measures. While the majority of Americans here in California and nationwide recognize that the time is now to fix our immigration system, the House will not act. It seems intent on the piecemeal approach, which would continue to keep women from contributing fully and keeping their families together.
Source: New York Times, Womens??? Groups Rally for Immigration Reform, Julia Preston, Sept. 12, 2013