The text of a letter sent to female members of Congress by the Asian American Justice Center signed by Sharon Watkins, Ron Degges (Disciples Home Missions) and Sharon Stanley-Rea (director of Refugee and Immigration Ministries).
Dear Congresswomen of the Senate:
As the immigration reform bill is debated on the Senate floor, we, the undersigned organizations from across the United States, which are deeply concerned with women’s and immigrant rights, urge the women of the Senate to stand together to ensure that women’s priorities and lived realities are at the forefront of the immigration debate.
We ask you to stand alongside us in promoting and defending an immigration reform that is inclusive for women and families.
We ask that you sign on to and publicly support the following Women’s Statement for Immigration Reform.
Women’s Statement for Immigration Reform
Immigrant women make vital contributions to the rich social, cultural, intellectual, and economic fabric of the United States. Immigrant women are the drivers of integration: they encourage their families to learn English, succeed in school and business, pursue naturalization, and fulfill their civic responsibilities. Immigrant women fuel economic growth by starting new businesses and contributing to the workforce in important ways. Immigrant women are key contributors in the informal economy, such as domestic care workers, taking care of other people’s families, the sick, elderly, and children. And immigrant women workers will only a play a greater role in America’s economy going forward.
The face of today’s immigrant is increasingly female. Immigrant women comprise 51% of all immigrants in the United States and 100 immigrant women arrive in the United States for every 96 men. Immigrant women come to the United States for many reasons, largely to improve their lives and those of their family. Immigrant women are motivated to provide a better life for their children, to keep their families together, and to reunite with their families. They have already shown promise, ambition, and strength through their journeys and arrivals.
Immigration reform must be inclusive of women and their families and responsive to their needs. We will all benefit from common-sense immigration policy that supports and protects families and empowers women to contribute their full selves to our communities, culture, and economy.
Specifically, as the immigration reform debate continues we will stand up for and defend women’s priorities and needs within immigration reform.
We will stand up for:
• Keeping families together and making the family immigration system stronger by supporting proposals that help reunite families, including the brothers, sisters, and adult children of immigrants.
• Ensuring that the economic potential of women and the unique needs of families are both included into the proposed merit-based system.
• Providing families with greater long-term health and economic security, such as by supporting proposals that ensure families are not barred from the Earned Income Tax Credit.
• Amendments that recognize the particular challenges of small businesses and individual employers who hire women as domestic workers in meeting e-verify requirements.
• Ensuring that the Littlest of DREAMers have a bright future and access to the same five-year path to citizenship as their older siblings and peers.
We will defend against:
• Attacks to make the roadmap to citizenship it less affordable or open: Any attempt to increase penalties and fees or raise the poverty level threshold will have a negative impact on women and families.
• Attempts to devalue women’s work: The roadmap to citizenship must be accessible for women, specifically around employment requirements. Defending the caregiver provisions and the use of sworn affidavits to prove employment will result in the inclusion of thousands of women, who would otherwise end up barred from full participation in the U.S.
• Further Separation of families by defending attempts to gut the “right of return” provision that allows for a limited waiver of ineligibility for people who have already been removed but who are DREAM eligible undocumented youth, or are the parents, spouses, or children of U.S. citizens or permanent residents or attempts to weaken the family immigration provisions.