Statements

Rally in D.C. August 17: Communities United for Immigrant Rights

Stop the attacks on immigrants, women and all!

WORD stands in solidarity with all those fighting for legalization and full rights for immigrants. As deportations continue to mount, and immigrants continue to be detained and their families separated, all eyes are on Congress to see whether it will pass any type of immigration reform in coming months.

We recognize that the systemic oppression of immigrants under the current immigration law takes a particular toll on women in the United States and around the world. More than half of all immigrants in the United States are women. Fifty one percent of all undocumented people are women. Women and children account for three quarters of all immigrants.

Deportation and detention have a devastating impact on women around the world who depend on remittances from family members in the United States to survive. Immigrant women in the United States struggle with threats of deportation, family separation, isolation, exclusion from public benefits, wage theft, forced labor and poverty here and abroad.

According to 2008 census figures, nearly a quarter of all Latina women live in poverty - more than twice the percentage of white women in poverty. Women who have undocumented immigrant family members are separated from loved ones and forced to shoulder the burden of supporting their families when loved ones are deported.

Additionally, abusers deny undocumented women partners access to immigration assistance and papers, using the immigration system as an additional tactic of abuse.

Approximately 3,200 people in immigration detention are women. These women are frequently denied access to critical medical care.

Border violence targets women. Since a 1994 border enforcement push, deaths along the U.S.-Mexico border have skyrocketed. Women are 2.7 more likely to die than men while attempting to cross the border.

In late June, the Senate added a notorious “border surge” amendment (the Corker-Hoeven Amendment) to a reform bill that would provide a pathway to citizenship and immigration protection for many undocumented people, but also leaves millions waiting for papers. The amendment would add an estimated 20,000 border patrol agents, increase drone usage, and otherwise significantly expand militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Senate bill would eliminate two categories of family visas that women rely on to gain lawful status and to reunite with loved ones. It also creates a “merit-based” immigration system that adversely affects women by prioritizing “high-skilled” work and educational credentials over family unity.

The House of Representatives has rejected the Senate plan, with some Republican leaders pressing for a “piecemeal approach” to immigration reform. Yet no piecemeal approach could satisfy the core demands of undocumented workers and immigrant families for justice, equality, and an end to the terror of detention and deportation.

We must wage the struggle for legalization and full equality for immigrants on the streets. In 2008, it took only three weeks for the President and Congress to draft and pass the “emergency” bank bailouts. Immigrants have been struggling since 1986 – the last large-scale comprehensive legalization program – for an overhaul of the immigration laws. While the politicians act immediately for the banks, they tell immigrants to endure life-shattering family separation while patiently waiting for immigration reform.

We cannot tie ourselves to the reform promises of the Democratic or Republican parties, which fall a day late and a dollar short. The Democratic Party has presided over the largest deportation machine in U.S. history under the current Obama administration, outpacing every prior administration in deporting immigrants at a rate of approximately 1,000 people per day.

On August 17, women from all over the Washington, D.C. area will converge at the White House for a unity rally for immigrant rights. WORD (Women Organized to Resist and Defend), DMV LOLA (Latinas Organized for Leadership and Advocacy), and NAPAWF-DC (National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum) have initiated the action, and other immigrant and women's rights community organizations have joined in the call.

Come out, raise your voice and show that women are united in the demand for immigrant rights!

Communities United for Immigrant Rights
Rally at the White House
Saturday, August 17, 12 p.m.
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, D.C.

For more information about the rally or with media inquiries, join the facebook event or email dc@defendwomensrights.org.