On March 7, in celebration of International Women’s Day, the newly-formed National Coalition for Immigrant Women’s Rights (NCIWR), comprised of grassroots and advocacy organizations nationwide, is honored to brief members of Congress and staff about the need for comprehensive immigration reform that addresses the needs of women and their families.
Founding members of this coalition include the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH), the National Organization for Women (NOW), Legal Momentum, and the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF). NCIWR seeks to support immigration reform legislation that assures the rights of all immigrant women, and their families, living and working in the United States. The coalition invites other grassroots and advocacy organization to join these efforts.
Immigrant women and children, whether they came undocumented through the borders or overstayed their visas, have little or no access to healthcare, legal assistance, or economic justice. Immigrant women bear the brunt of family care giving while often facing family violence they fear to report, and a wage gap and harassment at work. They are most vulnerable to the worst kind of injustices and violence. They are subject to exploitation and abuse in the workplace, mental and physical harassment and discrimination, and violence from their employers, traffickers or smugglers. Immigration policies and backlogs contribute to the separation of families, and women are usually left to fend for the children when their husbands are detained or deported, causing prolonged emotional and financial stress.
NCIWR is asking Congress to consider enacting policies that will improve the lives of immigrant women and their families. That must include: legal and safe immigration options for the undocumented; a path to citizenship that allows immigrant women to have work permits access to higher education and federal financial aid; universal health care coverage that provides medical services to all immigrant women, regardless of their immigration status and economic status; protection from exploitation and abuse in the workplace; and an equitable opportunity to enter or remain in the country through legal means.
NCIWR seeks to bring equality to immigrant women through fair immigration policy so that women living in the U.S., regardless of origin, race, immigration status or ability, can live free of discrimination, oppression, workplace abuses and violence and be afforded the opportunity to rise out of poverty through fair wages, benefits and the support system they need to raise their families.
We look to the new Congress, with the first woman Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and the largest number of women members ever, to help immigrant women attain the ultimate dream of freedom and justice in the United States of America. We are counting on the 110th Congress to do the right thing on immigration reform.
Kiran Ahuja, Executive Director, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum
Olga Vives, Executive Vice President, National Organization for Women
Joanne Lin, Senior Staff Attorney, Immigrant Women Program, Legal Momentum
Hannah Sin, Community Outreach Director, Asian/Pacific Islander Domestic Violence Resource Project
Aishia Glasford, Policy Analyst, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health