- Click here for our Administrative Relief Policy Document: Making Administrative Relief work for Women in English.
- Las prioridades estan disponibles en Español aqui.
We are all better off when our communities are healthy and strong, we feel safe and our children can thrive. Women especially know the importance of coming together and wouldn’t be where we are without the help and support of the women in our lives—our mothers, sisters, daughters and friends. We honor and celebrate our unique commitment to protecting families and giving equal opportunities and respect to women and girls. We also know that it’s not about what you look like or where you were born that makes you American. It’s how you live your life and what you do that defines you here in America.
Currently, women comprise 51% of people migrating to America. We need an immigration process that ensures women are treated humanely and fairly, and can bring all of their many contributions and talents to strengthen our culture, economy and communities in America. Until we create a common-sense immigration process, we cannot justify enforcing the mix of outdated and unworkable laws on our books.
Specifically, a new common-sense immigration process must:
- Include a broad and clear roadmap to citizenship that recognizes the contributions of women’s work and women workers. Approximately 60% of undocumented women are in the labor force, the majority working in professions where employment is informal, often contingent or unverifiable. They work as domestic care workers, taking care of other people’s families, or work in various core service industries of our economy. The remaining 40% of undocumented women are at home caring for their own children and families and taking care of their home. Immigration reform must ensure that eligibility for citizenship at any stage is not linked to proof of work, leaving out millions of women and de-valuing women’s work.
- Keep all families together. Women are disproportionately affected by huge backlogs in the family immigration system. Seventy percent of immigrant women currently attain legal status through a family-based visa—some waiting in line for decades to be reunited with their families. Currently, there are approximately 4 million people in this backlogged system. Women who enter through the family immigration system also play key roles in the economy, starting businesses at extremely high rates. In addition, same-gender couples must not be forced to choose between their family and country. Currently, gay, lesbian and bisexual Americans cannot sponsor their partners or children for residency despite raising children and owning homes together. Immigration reform must be inclusive, eliminate backlogs to keep families together, and honor the love and commitment of all families.
- Recognize women’s work in future employment categories and protect women workers on the job. Currently, only a quarter of all employment visas are given to women as principal holders. Two-thirds of immigrant women in the employment visa category enter as dependents on their spouse’s visa, with no ability to work themselves. This prevents these women from contributing their skills and qualifications to the country, and makes them more vulnerable to an abusive partner. Immigrant women also face sexual harassment and other exploitative working conditions in the workplace. Immigration reform must include future flows in critical professions populated by women, allow dependent visa holders to work with full protections and adjust to legal permanent residency, and expand protections for immigrant women workers in asserting labor and civil rights.
- Ensure protections for survivors of violence and trafficking. The stringent and ineffective immigration laws allow human traffickers to exploit women who are desperate to be reunited with their families. Many survivors of violence are also forced to stay silent in dangerous situations due to dependency on the sponsorship of an abusive spouse or employer, or fear that engaging with service providers, local police or immigration agents could lead to deportation. Immigration reform must expedite current family-based sponsorships, expand protections and relief for asylum seekers and survivors of trafficking, increase the number of U-visas provided for domestic violence victims, and ensure full and immediate access to health care and social services for immigrant women survivors of violence and trafficking.
- Protect families and ensure due process. Too many women and children unfairly bear the brunt of detention and deportation. In a recent two-year period, 23% of all deportations were issued for parents with U.S. citizen children. In a nation that values liberty and justice for all, we cannot continue to put into practice laws that harm families and punish aspiring Americans. Immigration reform must protect parental rights, expand access to legal counsel and increase alternatives to detention. Immigration reform must also ensure due process that safeguards American values of fairness and justice.
- Promote immigrant integration that includes and empowers women. Approximately 10 million immigrant women speak limited English and need help from the federal government to learn our language and laws and ensure they can contribute their skills fully. They also need English to be able to report crimes, leave abusive relationships and participate in their children’s schooling and medical decisions. Onerous English language requirements in any reform legislation will exclude millions of women. Immigration reform must not be so onerous that it excludes millions. In addition, reform must ensure the Federal government provides assistance for legalization, citizenship and English, and supports state and local government integration efforts.