Female activists take on immigration reform

The push for immigration reform has been picking up allies from nearly all corners of American society. And now another group that has a long history of advocacy is joining the fight.

Framing immigration reform as a women’s rights issue, feminist organizations have become some of the more vocal supporters of an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws in recent months. Famous activists like Gloria Steinem have come out in favor of reform, and that kind of support is lending even more weight to the movement.

Women, children and families
While the immigration debate is often talked about in terms of legalities, enforcement, border security and economic impact, many women’s rights advocates are trying to reposition the debate in terms of its real-world effects on families, especially mothers and their children.

“When you ask people what images they think of when they think of immigration reform, (it’s) often men, scary looking, scaling the border walls,” Pramila Jayapal, co-chair of We Belong Together, a national immigration campaign that focuses on women, told reporters, according to the Kansas City Star. “The idea that it’s really women and children that are the majority of immigrants to the United States is completely lost.”

By emphasizing the more human aspects of the immigration debate, and discussing how a lack of citizenship can lead to broken homes, these female activists are hoping to put a more sympathetic spin on an issue that is often dealt with in broad generalizations.

Domestic workers
As immigration reform legislation has worked its way through Congress, and found itself stalled in the House, making it easier for immigrants who work in the science, technology and agricultural sectors to get work visas has been a major topic of discussion.

However, one major group of immigrant workers that has largely been ignored are those who work in domestic settings, many of whom are women. According to Steinem and other female activists, that outlook needs to change if the issue of equality for immigrants is to be addressed honestly.