For more than 150 years, the YWCA has actively engaged in social justice movements. Without question, immigration reform is one of the most pivotal civil rights and women’s rights issues of our day.
The United States is a nation of immigrants. Immigrants have been an essential part of American society since our country’s inception. According to the 2000 Census, there are more than 30 million immigrants in the U.S., equaling 11 percent of the population. One in five children is the child of an immigrant. The United States is one of the most diverse nations today, thanks to the millions of immigrants who have enriched our culture and contributed to our economic growth.
Significantly, women are increasingly becoming the face of the migrant population in the United States. They now make up 51 percent of the immigrant population in New Jersey and in the US. In fact, 100 immigrant women arrive in the US for every 96 men. The lack of comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) has taken a devastating toll on countless immigrant women and families and must be addressed now.
The YWCA USA calls for passage of broad and humane national immigration reform legislation that will provide a clear roadmap to citizenship for the 11 million aspiring Americans, including DREAMers, and makes it possible for them to fully integrate into the nation’s social and economic fabric, with all of the rights and responsibilities entailed in full integration.
Citizenship should ensure that everyone living in the U.S. has access to economic supports, affordable health care, workers’ rights, and the freedom to live free from the fear of detention and deportation. Specifically, the YWCA urges Congress to enact national immigration reform legislation that includes:
In June 2013, the Senate passed a bipartisan CIR bill called the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, or S. 744. It included a roadmap to citizenship, the DREAM Act, and protections for trafficked and immigrant victims of sexual and domestic violence. Introduced to the House as H.R. 15, the CIR bill has languished in committee for months. 218 signatures are required to bring H.R. 15 out of committee and onto the House floor. Currently, it has garnered only 199 signatures.
One year after the Senate first passed S.744, we are rapidly approaching the two millionth deportation milestone. Without passage of comprehensive immigration reform, every day families are being torn apart. The Center for American Progress reports that deportations of parents leave many US-born children with no alternative but foster care; deportation of fathers creates a large number of single mothers struggling to make ends meet; and children are experiencing the psychological effects of witnessing caregivers being arrested. The passage of H.R. 15 has never been so near, so necessary and yet so elusive.
At present, Senator Robert Menendez, Senator Cory Booker and Representative Rush Holt have formally endorsed the bill. Through letter-writing and telephone campaigns, we must remind them of the strength of their constituents by expressing gratitude for their support of CIR and requesting that they continue to apply pressure on fellow congressmen to bring HR 15 out of committee and onto the floor for consideration.
YWCA representatives from Princeton, Trenton, and Union County joined other YWCAs across the country to advocate on behalf of women and families in New Jersey. High on their agenda were three key issues:
To learn more about these issues and see how YWCA is making an impact in our country, click here.