How can we reduce violence against women? According to George Washington University’s Global Women’s Institute, one crucial solution is currently stalled in Congress: immigration reform. The study notes that giving undocumented refugees and immigrants a visa or a path to citizenship will help protect them from exploitation by employers and partners. Legal status would give these vulnerable women the means — and the courage — to stand up for their rights, both at work and at home, and to seek health and social services without the threat of deportation.
Women account for more than half of all foreign-born people in the U.S. and 48% of refugees, and yet only 27% of work visas issued in the U.S. go to women. GWI’s study suggests that if comprehensive immigration reform were passed, it could significantly reduce the overall level of violence against women in America.
“Every day that we delay action on reform that reflects the needs and contributions of immigrant women, our country is paying a terrible price,” said Pramila Jayapal, co-chair of We Belong Together, a campaign to mobilize women’s support of immigration reform that would prioritize women. “We are tearing families apart, missing out on the talents of millions of dedicated women workers and putting women’s lives in jeopardy.” Now it’s up to the politicians in Washington to act.