Approximately 100 women were arrested on Sept. 12 after blockading the intersection outside the House of Representatives to protest the House’s inaction on comprehensive immigration reform that treats women and children fairly.
The act of civil disobedience included the largest number of undocumented immigrant women to willingly submit to arrest. The 100 women who were arrested came from 20 states across the country to draw attention to the fact that women and children constitute three fourths of immigrants in the U.S. and disproportionately bear the burden of the failed immigration system. An additional 200 supporters stood witness for the group and called on the House to pass fair and inclusive immigration reform.
“Women contribute every day to our families, our economy and our country. Immigration reform is about being able to live, breathe free, and remember the values that brought us all here in the first place: democracy, freedom and justice,” said Pramila Jayapal, co-chair of We Belong Together: Women for Common Sense Immigration Reform.
Following the arrests, children delivered “red hearts of courage” to House leadership and key swing representatives to embolden them to take action for comprehensive immigration reform. “I am 11-years-old and I am a U.S. citizen, but I cannot live my life because my father is in deportation proceedings,” said Josie Molina Macaraeg, a leader with the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition.
Women who participated in the civil disobedience are demanding that the House of Representatives shows courage in passing fair immigration reform that includes the priorities of women: a roadmap to citizenship for undocumented women, a strong family immigration system which remains the primary way that women obtain legal status, and strong protections for women workers and victims of violence.
Currently, 51 percent of undocumented immigrants are women, but less than one-third of employment visas are issued to immigrant women each year. Seventy percent of immigrant women, therefore, enter the U.S. through the family visa system, which is so backlogged that women and children can wait decades to be reunited with their families.
The civil disobedience action highlights the moral urgency of the call for House leadership to move forward on fair immigration reform bill rather than inaction or piecemeal and inhumane enforcement bills, such as those currently in the House.
This would follow on the Senate’s overwhelmingly bi-partisan passage of a comprehensive immigration bill.
This post is also available in: Spanish