First -- still a little-known fact -- women now make up more than half of all immigrants coming to this country. At the same time, according to Newman, they also face very specific and often ignored challenges as immigrants, precisely because of their gender. "Women," she writes, "are far more likely to enter this country dependent upon a male partner’s employment visa: Seventy-two percent of those who hold employment visas in the United States are men." Additionally,
Vulnerability comes in many forms: [from] sexual violence that can start on a woman’s journey to the U.S., to domestic violence once in this country made worse when a woman is dependent upon a male partner to stay [here]... and extreme barriers to reproductive and sexual health care so critical to immigrant women who are here during their childbearing and parenting years. A law like the one in Arizona exacerbates all of these situations.Yet even though women are the new-immigrant majority, and are uniquely impacted as outlined above, Newman makes note of the reality that immigration policies have never taken women's experiences and expertise into account; of course, in order to bring about truly comprehensive immigration reform, women's policy priorities will finally need to be addressed. Ms. Foundation grantees like the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health and their executive director, Silvia Henriquez (a 2010 Gloria Award winner) understand this, and are leading the way to promote the solutions of immigrant women at policymaking tables to once and for all advance inclusive and just reform. What we need now is for the government (federal and state) to listen -- and to decisively act.
Take the time to Newman's piece and then visit Puentaz.org to learn how you can take action on behalf of women and families in Arizona -- today's front line in the national immigration debate. And view some powerful images from last Monday's Mother's Day March in Phoenix, supported with a grant from the Ms. Foundation for Women.