By Qudsia Jafree
Advocacy & Policy Manager of Health and Safety, YWCA USA
Early this morning, President Obama signed into law a measure that would effectively allow the government to open after an unprecedented three-week hiatus, due to Congress’ inability to come to an agreement about the federal budget. This temporarily eases the fear of the nearly 1,300 YWCA locations across the country that receive federal annual appropriations funding, through the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). For some associations, the lapse in federal funding to provide services was a real concern to the livelihood of the women and families whom they serve on a daily basis. While the buzz around the government re-opening has been welcome news today, the communities that YWCAs serve are not quite in the clear. In coming months, a new committee will be tasked deciding how to address the deficit reduction and programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are at risk for deep cuts.
While the YWCA USA will be monitoring this process and advocating for critical funding streams for women and families, we were thrilled to hear President Obama’s post-shutdown legislative to-do list on Tuesday. He claimed that his first order of business will be to push for the passage of comprehensive immigration reform legislation: “Once [the fiscal crisis] is done, you know, the day after I’m going to be pushing to say, call a vote on immigration reform,” Obama said. “I’m going to do so because I think it’s really important for the country.”
The YWCA supports the passage of a broad, common-sense national immigration reform that will provide a clear roadmap to citizenship for the 11 million aspiring Americans living in the shadows. Any proposed legislation must make it possible for immigrants to fully integrate into the nation’s social and economic fabric, with all of the rights and responsibilities entailed in full integration. As one of the oldest and largest women’s rights organizations in the United States, the YWCA is particularly committed to ensuring that immigration reform legislation is inclusive of provisions that protect and understand the unique challenges that immigrant women and families experience.
The YWCA was proud to support S.744, a bipartisan, comprehensive bill that passed in the Senate earlier this summer. It took into account the needs of immigrant women and families by providing a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million aspiring Americans living in the shadows, allows for families to stay united, strengthens provisions for immigrant victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and ensures that young immigrants brought into the country are able to remain and contribute to their communities through easier access to obtaining higher education.
In addition, the Senate bill takes a firm stance on the use of racial profiling by law enforcement officials by ensuring that it is considered a federally-prohibited practice. If passed into law, it would also require that stricter, streamlined guidelines be followed by state and federal agencies to create databases that document incidences of racial profiling. This will not only allow us to accurately assess how these agencies are faring in regards to cases of racial profiling, but will create a level of transparency and accountability for law enforcement officers using descriptors like race, ethnicity, and gender as indicators of crime.
As an organization dedicated to eliminating racism, the YWCA is invested in legislation that addresses the institutionalized use of racial profiling by law enforcement agencies and courts when working with immigrants and communities of color. We support S.744, and now that Congress is back in session, we encourage the House to act immediately and proceed to a full vote on the bipartisan Senate-proposed legislation on comprehensive immigration reform.
- Share your thoughts in the comments below, or participate in our blog carnival.
- Find your local YWCA and learn about ways to get involved.
- Learn more about the impact racial profiling has on immigrants and communities of color and share this information with at least 5 friends.
Learn More (And Pass It On!)
- YWCA Fact Sheet: Immigration Reform: Families and Communities
- YWCA Fact Sheet: Immigration Reform: Women’s Health and Safety
- YWCA Fact Sheet: Immigration Reform: Economic Safety Nets
- YWCA USA’s Analysis of the U.S. Senate Proposed Legislation for CIR
- Press Release: YWCA USA Commends Senate for Introducing Immigration Reform
- Blog: Why We Need Fair, Comprehensive Immigration Reform
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