Women to the GOP: Get it the f*ck together on immigration reform

Women protest against unfair immigration legislation.Photo credit: AP/ Eric Risberg

Last year, we saw a huge push nationwide to get comprehensive immigration reform passed. After months of speeches from Obama, rally after rally, blog post after blog post, the bill got as far as the Senate, and then…

We haven’t heard much since from the House.

Many are saying that comprehensive immigration reform is dead because Boehner has other priorities. Plenty of immigrant rights movements have shifted their focus to other issues, like pressuring President Obama to stop deportations.

But that’s not good enough. We cannot continue in the state we are in. If we do, women–who make up the majority of the immigrant population–will continue to be disproportionately affected by our broken system. The 60% of immigrant women working in the informal sector will continue to have their work undervalued, denying them access to work visas and documentation. Nothing will change about the fact that women make up two thirds of dependent visa holders—unable to work and financially and socially reliant on their partners. Women–the majority of whom come into the country on family sponsorship visas–will still be separated from their family members due to unbelievable wait times. Undocumented women will continue to be exploited for their work and to suffer increased rates of violence.

Anything less than a comprehensive reform that addresses the needs of women, LGBTQI, and other marginalized communities is not enough.

The standard for an immigration overhaul that congressional Republicans have proposed is lacking to say the least: it does little to address the issues immigrant women face, and focuses on border militarization and the criminalization of immigrants in a way that makes me sick. And even so, I think it’s better than what we’ve got now.

So do 50 grassroots organizations who are working tirelessly to get immigration reform passed this year. They are revamping their tactics and taking names while they do it—specifically, the names of conservative politicians whose inaction will cost them voters. Pramila Jayapal, chairwoman of We Belong Together, thinks of it like this:

Unless we actually have action from House leadership…to move a bill forward…we will continue to push and push and push and make sure that women voters in November understand exactly who has blocked immigration reform.

The goal is to lean heavily on women voters, the vast majority of whom back comprehensive immigration reform. This means that Republican politicians who have a problem with immigration reform—well, they have a problem with women too (no shocker there). Bummer for them women make up over half the electorate and are more likely to vote than men.

Woman shows her two sons on her phone, crying as she tells how she misses them.

Deysi Marisol Cerna Gonzalez cries looking at a photo of her sons, who she left in Guatamela when she fled her abusive husband. (Photo credit: Astrid Riecken/Washington Post)

The GOP is already scrambling when it comes to women voters. Conservative politics have been the driving force behind some of the most regressive attacks on reproductive justice our country has seen in decades, and have spearheaded cut backs on basic social programs crucial to millions of women across the country. And if the Republic party continues to stand in the way of immigration reform, it will lose any Latin@ voters it has left. Already, we’re seeing that Latin@s as a majority do not share the same conservative views on reproductive rights as the GOP, a cultural trend the party had long been banking on.

We need to make sure that the GOP knows that any shot they have at attracting women or Latin@ voters is riding on this bill. We need to tell our politicians that we know who is standing in the way of justice for 11 million undocumented immigrants, and we won’t be standing for them come election day.

We’re starting on International Women’s Day. Join We Belong Together, Fair Immigration Reform Movement, and SEIU for a month of fasting and actions for fair immigration reform.

The biggest barrier immigration reform is facing is a minority group of politicians. Don’t let 11 million people and their loved ones suffer because of them.


Juliana gets a thrill using the word f*ck in her title.

Bay Area, California

Juliana is a digital storyteller for social change. As a writer at Feministing since 2013, her work has focused on women's movements throughout the Americas for environmental justice, immigrant rights, and reproductive justice. In addition to her writing, Juliana is a Senior Campaigner at Change.org, where she works to close the gap between the powerful and everyone else by supporting people from across the country to launch, escalate and win their campaigns for justice.

Juliana is a Latina feminist writer and campaigner based in the Bay Area.

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