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December 4, 2014

Obama's Action on Immigration Will Leave Millions of Women in Danger
By Tina Vasquez

Andrea Cristina Mercado, co-chair of We Belong Together, says this is exactly why her organization focuses on how families are impacted by the broken immigration system. "I spent nine years community organizing and it was often women organizing vigils, rallies, and forums. At the national level, in Washington D.C., all we hear is men's voices." She adds, "Three-quarters of immigrants in the U.S. are women and children and it's our goal to lift the voices of immigrant women fighting for justice. This may sound like a specific lens we're applying, but if you really look at what's happening, policies are never gender-specific, but it's clear who's being impacted." As examples, Mercado cites the many immigrant women who experience domestic violence, but are afraid to report the abuse because of fear of deportation. We Belong Together reports that only a quarter of all employment visas are given to women as principal holders, meaning two-thirds of immigrant women in the employment visa category enter as dependents on their spouse's visa, with no ability to work themselves, making them more vulnerable to an abusive partner. Women often carry the burden of the deportation of men, she says. According to findings from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, a majority of the immigrants deported last year were Mexican men in their twenties or thirties. More specifically, 93 percent of ICE deportees were men. "When men get deported and families are torn apart, women are left to be the sole providers for their families while also dealing with their trauma and the trauma of their children," Mercado said.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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