By Desiree Hoffman
Director of Advocacy, YWCA USA
YWCA Executive Directors, CEOs, Board Members and staff were on Capitol Hill today, advocating for the passage of comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) that protects the safety, security, and opportunity of immigrant women, girls and their families.
It was a historic year for Capitol Hill Day. This was the highest attendance ever recorded since Hill Day started in 2006, with 288 attendees making their rounds with Senators and Representatives, and a total of 291 visits with Republicans and Democrats alike. It is truly impressive to have had so many waves of persimmon walking through the halls of Congress, bringing with them a unified message about CIR. Kendra Woodall, Board Member of YWCA Lorain, said: “”I have always wanted to help people and get rid of the injustices in America. Being at the YWCA USA Annual Conference has elevated my interest in immigration reform and politics.”
Immigration reform is a women’s issue and a racial justice issue. There are numerous facts that often get lost in the policy and politics, and it is for this reason that the YWCA is looking at CIR through a gender lens and telling Congress to craft legislation that takes into account the unique needs of women and families. Three-fourths of immigrants are women and children. Women now make up 51% of the undocumented immigrant population, and 100 immigrant women arrive in the US for every 96 men. Immigrant women play a vital role in our economy, and are often the ones caring for children, the elderly, and the sick. The majority of women migrate to reunite with family, make a better life for their children, or escape oppression, discrimination, and violence that prevent them from living full and free lives in their home countries.
Our Capitol Hill day also coincides with our National Day of Action on Immigration Reform, and it all could not come at a better time, what with the recent passage of the Senate bill (S. 744) out of the Judiciary Committee. The bill is expected to be debated on floor of Senate over the course of June. The House, in the meantime, is currently in the process of drafting its own immigration bill, and there are signs that it will be a contentious process in which advocates like the YWCA need to be fully engaged.
View all of the updates from the 2013 Annual Conference on Storify.
This year, we partnered with national organizations including the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Casa de Esperanza, the National Council of Jewish Women, VotoLatino, One America, the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, the League of Women Voters and Rights Working Group. We joined together to raise national awareness about the urgency of passing CIR now, to make sure that the bill includes: a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million aspiring Americans here in the US; the DREAM Act, access to quality health care and economic supports with no waiting periods; and protections for trafficked women and immigrant women who are victims of sexual or domestic violence.
This is the first of many opportunities to come in which the voices of YW women and our like-minded partners will be crucial in shaping the outcome of CIR.