An advocacy group for immigrant women called for President Barack Obama to expand the scope of his proposed immigration reforms in a statement to The Raw Story on Wednesday.
While they were encouraged by Obama’s increased attention to the issue this week, said Jessica González-Rojas, executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH), the plan he laid out on Tuesday lacks “critical pieces needed for inclusive, humane immigration reform were missing from the discussion.”
González-Rojas specifically called for an end to immigration policies that discriminate against women and keep families apart, as well as increased access to health care for immigrant families.
“It’s time for the voices, challenges, and contributions of immigrant women to be fully recognized and addressed in immigration policy,” she said.
González-Rojas is also a steering committee member for the National Coalition for Immigrant Women’s Rights, which has called on the president to push for proposals that help women married to workers who hold H1B non-immigrant visas, saying women in that situation are often forced to rely on their partner to support the family because they cannot get their own work permits.
Critics have said women in those kinds of situations are at increased risk of suffering domestic violence. But a proposal to include undocumented women in an expanded version of the Violence Against Women Act was opposed by Republican lawmakers, causing the law to not be renewed earlier this month.
However, MSNBC reported last week that Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) reintroduced the bill in the Senate, but without a provision allowing for more visas to be issued to domestic violence victims.
The coalition also took issue with the use of the E-verify system for confirming employees’ immigration status, saying the system, already “riddled with errors,” adversely affects women who change their name, causing them to be flagged by mistake.
Another group of women seemingly ignored in this week’s proposals by both the president and the “group of 8” lawmakers is domestic workers. According to The Nation, findings from the National Domestic Workers indicate that 46 percent of domestic workers — defined as nannies, caregivers or housecleaners — surveyed were born outside the U.S., with 35 percent of them lacking American citizenship.
“Many proposals for pathways to citizenship unfairly require proof of employment that does not recognize women who are more likely to be working in the informal economy or as fulltime parents and caregivers,” González-Rojas said.
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