As part of its core mission to ensure that women and children's voices are included in immigration reform, We Belong Together has worked closely with members of the House Women's Working Group in Immigration Reform to identify priorities for women and children and to help them educate their colleagues on why immigration reform is a women's issue. This press statement is a recent outcome of this process!
New Comprehensive Immigration Reform Legislation Protects and Empowers Immigrant Women
Members of the Congressional Women’s Working Group on Immigration Reform support HR 15
Washington, DC—Today, members of the Congressional Women’s Working Group on Immigration Reform voiced their support for HR 15, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. This common sense, comprehensive immigration reform legislation will help to keep families together, grow our economy and reduce the deficit.
HR 15 also includes a number of critical provisions that will empower talented, hard working immigrant women to come out of the shadows and pursue the American dream.
- HR 15 includes a fair, safe and inclusive pathway to citizenship for immigrant women and their children;
- HR 15 includes exemptions and waivers to employment requirements for dependents, pregnant women, women on maternity leave, and primary caregivers that will make citizenship accessible to women who work in the informal economy or as homemakers;
- HR 15 includes a right to return provision that will help some deported mothers to legally and safely legalize their status and return to their children;
- HR 15 will allow immigration judges to consider the effect of a mother’s removal on her children, and protect the parental rights of mothers caught up in immigration detention and removal; and
- HR 15 increases the number of U visas available each year for victims of domestic violence and other crimes and will help to ensure that, in cases of domestic violence, abused mothers and children can maintain their own legal immigration status and work authorization independent of an abusive spouse or parent.
“While this bill isn’t perfect, it reflects a bipartisan compromise and it deserves a vote in the House of Representatives,” said Chair of the Women’s Working Group, Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA). “Millions of immigrant women are counting on us. As mothers and breadwinners, they make tremendous contributions to our communities and our country that too often go unrecognized. Instead of consigning them to an uncertain future, we should empower them to help us build a better economy and a stronger nation.”
“Comprehensive immigration reform is a moral imperative and an economic necessity,” said Representative Titus (D-NV). “Immigrant women and their families deserve to come out of the shadows and pursue their American Dream. H.R. 15 represents a bipartisan compromise that will move us closer to a fairer and more just immigration system that protects the rights of immigrant women. Now is the time for the House to take up comprehensive immigration reform and give these women the protection they need and the recognition they deserve.”
“We need comprehensive immigration reform that eliminates backlogs, reunites families and meets the demands of our nation’s economy today and into the future. Any immigration legislation must reflect our values—and that means addressing the needs of women and families. Building on the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act that Congress passed earlier this year, this bill would increase the number of visas for victims of domestic violence and human trafficking, and make key improvements to the refugee and asylum program. We can’t settle for a piece-meal approach. Our system today is complicated and requires a comprehensive overhaul.” said Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA).
“Women are over half of all immigrants to the U.S. We owe it to them to pass comprehensive immigration reform now,” said Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA). “H.R. 15 addresses flaws in our current laws that tear families apart. The bill provides stronger protections for immigrant women who may be separated from their children and allows for victims of domestic violence to maintain their own immigration status. We’ve had enough delays – it’s time to act.”
“We must begin to address the inequity immigrant women experience as a result of a flawed immigration system,” said Rep. Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA). “Whether they are suffering from domestic violence, lower pay, or discrimination, our unfair system leaves women and their American-born children vulnerable. Women are often the decision-makers and glue that holds their households together. These women and their children deserve better. Only by passing true, comprehensive immigration reform can we ensure equality and respect for these women who contribute so much to our economy, society, and American values system.”
“I am so proud to join the Women’s Working Group on Immigration Reform to support this essential immigration legislation,” said Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI). “Women must always remain a priority in our comprehensive immigration reform discussions. I am pleased to support HR 15 – legislation that works to keep families together and provides a fair pathway to citizenship for our immigrant mothers.”
“The time is now for comprehensive immigration reform that protects and empowers immigrant women and families,” said Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM). “As more women can come out of the shadows and legally enter the job market, fewer women will face exploitation and discrimination in the workplace. When more women can earn a decent living and provide for their families, our economy as a whole is better off. I urge my colleagues to allow a vote on this strong bill that will fix our broken immigration system, jumpstart our economy and create jobs.”
“It is time for the House to take action and pass comprehensive immigration reform that creates a pathway to citizenship for 11 million aspiring citizens, keeps families together, and protects workers, and women. Immigrant women are too often ignored as they work long and hard hours just to feed, clothe, and provide a safe place to sleep at night for their families. We need to do all that we can to protect and empower undocumented women so that they can come out of the shadows and pursue the American dream,” said Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA).
The Congressional Women’s Working Group on Immigration Reform is comprised of Members of Congress and women’s organizations that recognize the profound impact of our broken immigration system on immigrant women and are committed to enacting responsible comprehensive immigration reform that respects their unique needs and contributions.