FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 20, 2013
Images Available Here: http://bit.ly/1atkUN5
Washington, DC - Yesterday, We Belong Together, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and the Asian American Justice Center held a press conference with Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Terry O'Neill, President of NOW, Sammie Moshenberg of the National Council of Jewish Women, and women leaders and immigrant women who would benefit directly from much-needed changes to U.S. immigration laws.
More than 150 women from all over the country gathered in DC for a Day of Action called “Women Standing Together for Immigration Reform,” which included meetings with legislators in both chambers and a briefing with House staffers to discuss the pending immigration reform bill and its effects on women and families.
“As mothers, daughters and sisters, we do not want an immigration bill that disadvantages women,” said Sen. Hirono. “Sadly, the new merit-based point system gives preferences to people who hold advanced degrees or work in high-skill jobs, opportunities that are too often unavailable to women around the world. We need to work together to address these disparities and make this bill better for women who deserve a fair shake in our green card system.”
After the press conference, the women delegates from around the country delivered feather dusters to Senators who have been “making a mess” of immigration reform and large printed images of the Fedoras for Fairness campaign to Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and others who have been championing immigration reform that treats women fairly and keeps families together. They also talked to Senate offices about amendments to the bill currently on the floor to strengthen the merit-based system so it is fair to women, improve provisions for victims of domestic violence, limit shackling of pregnant women in detention, and recognize the particular challenges household and small employers will face in meeting e-verify requirements.
Iliana Lopez, a representative of Encuentro who traveled from New Mexico for the mobilization, said, “The message I want to send to Congress is this: Creating a pathway to citizenship is the best way to ensure our state and our country continue to grow as a society. As a woman, a working mother and an immigrant, I am committed to doing everything I can to ensure we get the best immigration reform bill possible.”
Later in the day, We Belong Together and Women’s Refugee Commission held a briefing in the House, co-sponsored by all five women on the House Judiciary Committee, to discuss the impacts of immigration policy on women and urge a comprehensive instead of piecemeal solution to immigration reform.
“This is a historic moment for immigration reform. When I meet with farmworkers, high tech companies or young immigrant students in my district, they all agree that we need to fix our immigration system,” said Rep. DelBene. The Congresswoman left the briefing explaining that she had to return to a meeting of the House Judiciary Committee, where the SAFE Act was being considered. Rep. DelBene said of the SAFE Act, “It is a step backwards. This enforcement-only strategy creates barriers for victims of domestic barriers who will be afraid of seeking help from police.”
Pramila Jayapal, Co-Chair of We Belong Together, said to the packed room, “Immigration reform is central to achieving women’s equality. Previous immigration reform efforts did not take into account that women work to care for members of the family at home and work in the informal economy.” Jayapal continued, “We cannot pit family-based immigration, where 70% of immigrant women get their legal status, against employment immigration. We need both.”
We Belong Together shared the following statement -- signed by 120 organizations -- urging women members of Congress to support key provisions in immigration legislation that will ensure the fair treatment of women and families: http://www.webelongtogether.org/news/women%E2%80%99s-statement-immigrati....
We Belong Together is a national campaign anchored by the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum. The campaign engages women around the country in working toward common sense immigration reform that will treat women and families fairly. www.WeBelongTogether.org