9to5 | STATEMENT: Congress Must Act Now On Comprehensive Immigration Reform
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STATEMENT: Congress Must Act Now On Comprehensive Immigration Reform

STATEMENT: Congress Must Act Now On Comprehensive Immigration Reform

May 29, 2014

Contact: Linda Meric, National Executive Director,
(303) 628-0925 x15 or lindam@9to5.org

One year later, and no movement in the House toward change

DENVER, May 29, 2014 — “As we reach the one year anniversary of the passage of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (S. 744) in the U.S. Senate without seeing any movement forward with similar legislation in the House, 9to5 stands with labor and immigration organizations urging Congress to act and remember that the time for common-sense immigration reform, more than ever, is now.

Immigration is a women’s issue. It is a family issue. Women in communities across the country are affected by U.S. immigration policies that undermine their and their families’ well-being.

Marcela Cervantes, who was three years old when she came to Colorado, says about her family, “We came to Colorado from Leon, Guanajuato in Mexico. My grandmother brought us to the United States for a better life, so my mom could find better work and provide for us since she was a single mother with two kids and another on the way.”

Marcela, now 26, is like millions of other women and children who make up three quarters of all immigrants in this country; a daughter, sister, a worker and is now a mother herself.  Some of her immediate family members are US citizens, some are not. She lives in fear that any moment, she could be ripped apart from her family simply because our failed immigration system has left her undocumented in the country she grew up in.

Approximately 60 percent of undocumented women are in the labor force, often working as domestic workers or caretakers in industries that do not provide paystubs. The remaining 40 percent of undocumented women are at home caring for their own children and families. Immigration reform must include a clear and accessible roadmap to citizenship, free from unreasonable fees and fines. A variety of documents must be honored as proof of employment, and work done in the home must be recognized.

Immigrant women also face sexual harassment and other exploitative working conditions in the workplace.  A broken immigration system also allows human traffickers to exploit women who are desperate to be reunited with their families. Many survivors of violence are forced to stay silent in dangerous situations due to dependency on the sponsorship of an abusive spouse or employer, or fear of deportation. 

Too many women and children unfairly bear the brunt of detention and deportation. In a recent two-year period, 23 percent 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 break apart families and punish aspiring Americans.

Caring for our families and putting our children first is a universal value. Immigrant women and their families need a path to citizenship that recognizes their contributions to our communities and our economy, reunites families, ensures higher education access for immigrant students, protects the rights and dignity of workers, and integrates immigrants into all aspects of community life. We will all benefit from a common-sense immigration process that leads to safe communities, healthy children and a strong economy.”

About 9to5: With forty-one years’ experience in winning justice for working women, 9to5 leads the way to create a powerful force for change on issues affecting low-wage women and their families. www.9to5.org