US immigration law battle set to become a grassroots womens issue

Published:  6 Nov at 6 PM
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Tagged: Visas, Immigration, USA
With the House in chaos over the unresolved budget crisis issue and the row over the Affordable Healthcare Act lingering on, women are now taking up the cause in support of the Immigration Reform Bill.

Advocates of the bill are lobbying for comprehensive reform policies inclusive of women’s issues, and are stressing the need to regain lost momentum. Over four million women make up almost half of undocumented persons in the USA, leading co-chair of the We Belong Together campaign Pramilla Jayapal to state that those who are against reform are by definition against women.

The campaign was launched recently by a coalition of concerned groups determined to spread the word that immigration reform is a women’s issue and to redefine the priorities within the debate over the bill. Awareness of undocumented women and the challenges they face due to a lack of legal status is well documented in studies and scholarly dissertations, and their challenges feature regularly in the storylines of US TV dramas.

Undocumented female immigrants are afraid to report domestic violence and rape and are often subject to extreme poverty as well as street violence and exploitation under threats of revealing their illegal status. Jayapal is convinced that most Americans don’t appreciate that 75 per cent of illegals are women and children, believing that the vast majority are male.

She also notes that mindfulness of women’s importance is already shown in amendments which allow expanded U visa coverage for criminally exploited women and are considering protection for domestic violence victims. However, with the immigration debate now stalled, an overhaul resulting in a broader, more comprehensive approach to reform should now take place.
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