Immigrant Bashing Hurts Women Most

An immigrant from Guatemala who entered the country illegally waits at a bus station she and others were released from a fami
An immigrant from Guatemala who entered the country illegally waits at a bus station she and others were released from a family detention center, Tuesday, July 7, 2015, in San Antonio. Women and children are being released from immigrant detention centers faster on bond, with many mothers assigned ankle monitoring bracelets in lieu of paying. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

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Equal Time with Martha Burk is a weekly 2.5 minute radio commentary originating from KSFR public radio in Santa Fe, and available nationally on PRX. Burk is a political writer and Money editor for Ms. magazine, and directs the Corporate Accountability Project for the National Council of Women's Organizations in Washington, D.C.

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The Republican presidential candidates are busy debating their version of so-called immigration reform are using some mighty harsh words. In all that rhetoric there's a not-so-hidden agenda against the majority of immigrants -- women.

That's right. The face of the migrant in the United States is increasingly female. According to the Migration Policy Institute, women now make up 51 percent of the immigrant population, and 100 immigrant women arrive in the United States for every 96 men. You know, the mothers of all those "rapists," "criminals," and "anchor babies," according to Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush, respectively.

The majority of women migrate to reunite with family, make a better life for their children, or escape violence that in their home countries. But our current laws make it harder for these women to come legally, and harder to become citizens when they do get here.

So what do women need in real immigration overhaul?

For starters, give them an easier way to document earnings. Many work in the cash economy -- jobs like housecleaning and child care. They don't get pay stubs, so they can't prove how much money they make -- a requirement for the path to citizenship. Why not allow them to use sworn affidavits to prove employment?

And speaking of money, one especially punishing proposal in the last (failed) immigration bill would require migrants to maintain an income that is four times the federal poverty line for 10 years before they can apply for permanent residence. That's over $90,000 bucks a year for a family of four. Most folks born in the USA can't do that, much less an immigrant woman working for minimum wage or less.

Trump and six other Republican candidates want to amend the constitution so that kids born on U.S. soil do not become citizens if their parents are unauthorized immigrants. Well, the Obama administration has shown us how great that plan would work. Thousands of mothers have already been deported, while their American-born children -- U.S. citizens who can't be deported -- become wards of the government in foster care.

Real immigration reform would reunite these families and give moms a way to become legal residents -- unless any hopes of rational plans are scuttled by the next president, whose idea of reform is amending the constitution to take away citizenship for kids born in the U.S., mass deportation on an unprecedented scale, and the longest fence since the great wall of China.