By We Belong Together
We Belong Together brings women and girls together for common sense immigration reform that empowers women and keeps families together.
As women, we know the importance of sticking together.
We wouldn’t be where we are without the help and support of the women in our lives—our mothers, sisters, teachers, daughters, friends and mentors. That’s why we’re getting together to make sure that immigration reform takes into account the unique experiences of women and girls.
Eliza and Esther
We’re coming together to make sure that immigration reform keeps families together and empowers young women like nineteen-year-old Eliza of Los Angeles. Five years ago, Eliza was just like any other kid, standing outside her school waiting for her mom to pick her up. But one afternoon, everything changed for Eliza and her mom Esther.
Eliza kept waiting, but her mom never arrived. Eliza had no idea where she was or what had happened to her. Esther had been detained at a check-point on her way to pick her daughter up. She was deported soon after.
That day and the weeks that followed were hard on Eliza. Eliza’s whole world was turned upside down when she found out that her mother was deported. “It was really difficult to deal with because I didn’t know if she was okay or where she was headed.” She spent the next several years bouncing from relative to relative, feeling alone, hopeless, and angry at a time when she needed her mother’s support the most.
Eliza’s mother Esther has never been able to return to the US, Esther explains.
“I have such a terrible loneliness, but I know our pain is the pain of so many.”
We know that Eliza and Esther’s pain is shared by millions of mothers and daughters. That’s why, for Eliza, for Esther and for millions of other women and girls we are coming together for common sense immigration reform that empowers women and keeps families together.
Women and Girls in the Senate Immigration Bill
On May 21st, after days of discussion on more than 100 amendments, the Senate immigration bill passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The advocacy of women and girls from all over the country played a crucial role in strengthening the bill and improving its impact on women and families.
Because of the work of thousands of women, amendments that would have undermined the path to citizenship were voted down and we were able to protect and even expand access to a road to citizenship for millions of women and girls. The millions of people waiting in backlogs in the family immigration system will finally be cleared.
Amendments to the bill will enable more families to stay together, will force fewer children into foster care while their parents are detained, and limit enforcement in sensitive areas like schools, religious institutions, and hospitals, so that moms and kids don’t have to experience the horror that Eliza and her mom went through.
In addition, amendments to the bill will protect more women and children from abuse by allowing survivors of domestic violence to access necessary services and protections; and by providing protection from abuse for women and children while they are in detention.
Additional amendments to the bill will guarantee the right to safe workplaces for immigrant women by making it safer to speak up at work about unsafe working conditions and protecting vulnerable guest workers from trafficking and abuse.
Strengthening the bill
Though many of the amendments to the bill are victories for women and girls, we still have work to do to ensure that immigration reform treats women and girls fairly. For example, the E-verify provisions of the bill will have a particularly harsh impact on women workers, and we must work together to limit them as the bill moves forward. We also need to make sure we keep our family immigration system strong as the backbone of American immigration principles.
Unfortunately, many of the amendments that would have restored family unity were defeated, including an amendment that would kept the sibling and adult sponsorship categories of family immigration, or an amendment that would have given the parents of adult children like Esther the right to reunite with their families in the United States. In addition, same-sex couples continue to be excluded from much needed protections in the bill.
Though the bill has many excellent provisions for women and girls, there’s more for us to do. That’s why we’re going to stick together as the full Senate begins to work on the immigration bill and keep our calls, emails, and tweets coming. Together, we can make this legislation as strong as possible for women and girls.
We hope you’ll join us!
You can see more of Esther and Eliza’s story and find out how to get involved at www.webelongtogether.org
Join the Campaign on Facebook: We Belong Together
Follow the Campaign on Twitter: @womenbelong
We Belong Together is an initiative of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the National Asian Pacific American Womens Forum, with the participation of women’s organizations, immigrant rights groups, children, and families across the country to mobilize women in support of common-sense immigration reform that will keep families together and empower women.