Last Friday marked one year since the passage of immigration reform in the U.S. Senate, without seeing any movement on similar legislation in the House of Representatives. As we mark that inauspicious anniversary, 9to5 stands with immigrant families urging the House to act and President Obama to stop deportations. The time for common-sense immigration reform, more than ever, is now.
Immigration is a women's issue. It is a family issue. Women in communities across the country are hurt by U.S. immigration policies that undermine their families' well-being.
Marcela, a 9to5 member who was three years old when she came to this country, says about her family, "My grandmother brought us to the United States for a better life, so my mom could find better work and provide for us since she was a single mother with two kids and another on the way."
Marcela, now 26, is like millions of other women and children who make up three quarters of all immigrants in this country -- she's a daughter, sister, a worker and now a mother herself. Some of her immediate family members are U.S. citizens, some are not. She lives in fear that in any moment she could be ripped apart from her family simply because our failed immigration system has left her undocumented in the country she grew up in.
Nearly 60 percent of undocumented women are in the labor force, many working as domestic workers or caregivers. The demand for this work is projected to increase by 48 percent over the next decade; these workers are critical for our economy.
The remaining 40 percent of undocumented women are at home caring for their own children and families. We need immigration reform that includes a clear and accessible roadmap to citizenship, honors a variety of documents as proof of employment, and recognizes work done in the home.
Because they live and work in the shadows, immigrant women often face wage theft, sexual harassment and other exploitative working conditions. House Majority Leader-elect McCarthy has the opportunity to stand up to Speaker John Boehner and move comprehensive immigration reform forward and end the human and economic crisis caused by our broken immigration system.
Too many women and children unfairly bear the brunt of detention and deportation. In a recent two-year period, 23 percent of all deportations were issued for parents with U.S. citizen children. Over the last year, 400,000 more immigrants were deported and separated from their families. The president needs to stop these deportations and family separations. In a nation that values liberty and justice for all, we cannot continue to break apart families and punish aspiring Americans.
When a group of women can be exploited at work, workplaces are less secure for all of us. When a group of women is afraid to report violence or abuse, communities are less safe for all of us. When we're not utilizing the skills and talents of a part of our population, our economy is weaker for all of us. Our destinies and futures are intertwined. We can only achieve liberty and justice for all when all of us have access to liberty and justice.
While Congress and the president have done nothing, 9to5 members have rallied, met with our Congressional representatives, fasted, held press conferences and been arrested for comprehensive immigration reform. We are proud to be part of We Belong Together, uniting women from all walks of life in the fight for common sense reform that treats women and children fairly. Like thousands of others who've signed the We Belong Together pledge to take action, 9to5 members will raise our voices and our votes to support those elected officials who take action.
We will all benefit from a common-sense immigration process that leads to safe communities, healthy children and a strong economy. Seventy percent of women across the country support comprehensive immigration reform. The time for Congress and the administration to act is now.