Can We Keep Talking About Immigration Reform in 2014?

3 years ago

Less than a year ago, it looked like 2013 might have been the year for a broad overhaul of U.S. immigration law. After a bipartisan bill easily passed the Senate last June, the end of the year came and went before a bill could be introduced in the Republican dominated House.

The GOP seems to pulling back from the Senate bill — probably because of worries that the plan will turn off more conservative voters during this midterm election year. In late January, Speaker of the House John Boehner unveiled a much more conservative blueprint for immigration reform. The biggest difference between the Senate approved bill and the House Republican proposal is that the new plan doesn’t include a pathway to citizenship for undocumented people who are already in the United States.

It’s really easy for discussions about immigration to get bogged down in complicated and confusing terms. After all, it’s been said that U.S. immigration law is more convoluted than the tax code. But let’s not forget that immigration reform is about people. And that’s the message that advocates are hoping will sink in.

Image Credit: Grace Hwang Lynch

Just days before Boehner announced the GOP talking points, I watched Jose Antonio Vargas — perhaps America’s most famous undocumented immigrant — screen his film Documented in a packed auditorium in his hometown of Mountain View, California. The crowd at that Bay Area event was largely supportive, but in scenes from the documentary, Vargas shows an understanding that the most important discussions are the ones with people who are hostile to immigrants or don’t understand the loopholes in the current law that prevent many people from even applying for legal status in the U.S.

We Belong Together immigration advocates on Capitol Hill, March 2013, Image Credit: Grace Hwang Lynch

Women’s advocates — including the immigration group We Belong Together, YWCA USA, and the labor union SEIU — are planning a month of events beginning on International Women’s Day on March 8, to challenge lawmakers who continue to oppose immigration reform that treats women fairly.

Here are some statistics about women and immigration reform from We Belong Together:

  • Polling shows that 70% of women across the country support immigration reform
  • Women made up 53% of the electorate during the 2012 Presidential election
  • Women voted more than men did during the 2010 midterm elections (46.2% of eligible women voters voted in the 2010midterm elections compared to only 44.8% of men)
  • Women voted 49% Republican and 48% Democrat in 2010 midterm elections, but this could change given that polling shows that women vote for officials who share their values and care about issues affecting women.
  • How do you feel about the current state of immigration reform discussions?

    News and Politics Editor Grace Hwang Lynch blogs about raising an Asian mixed-race family at HapaMama.

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