Immigration

Undocumented women in the United States are very vulnerable to exploitation, even by our own government. They pay taxes, but do not receive services. They cannot speak up at work, or feel safe seeking police assistance when they are victimized. Everyone is entitled to a life free of fear.Kit Miller, WDN member

Our Vision

We believe the current immigration system needs to be reformed to unite and support immigrant families and uphold the civil and human rights of all people. Our broken immigration system has shattered hundreds of thousands of families through deportation.  It has criminalized immigrant communities, allowed for the exploitation of workers, and has prolonged the suffering of domestic violence and trafficking survivors.

Women now make up 51% of the immigrant population. And 70% of immigrant women currently attain legal status through the family immigration system. Today 16.6 million people belong to mixed-status families with at least one U.S. citizen and one undocumented member, many of who are parents or heads of household.

Immigrants march for their rights in Washington, D.C., 2010. Photo by Anuska Sampedro

Our Current Focus

The Immigration Circle focuses on providing education and collective funding opportunities to the WDN community about immigration and its impact on women and children.

The Circle continues to advocate at the national level for comprehensive immigration reform that:

  • Provides a path to citizenship for all immigrants including LGBTQ families, and ensures that it recognizes the contributions of women workers.
  • Provides opportunities for safe future migration and maintaining worker protections.
  • Ensures the safety and security for immigrant women survivors of violence and trafficking by expediting processes, increasing the number of U-visas provided for victims of domestic violence and expanding protections and relief.
  • Ensures due process and protections for women and children. Too many women bear the brunt of unfair detention and deportation.
  • Establishes border policy that respects border and immigrant communities.
  • Recognizes immigrants’ full humanity.

Our Story

WDN’s Immigration Circle has successfully brought to bear the lobbying power of its members around this critical issue in Washington, D.C. in our annual DC lobby program. WDN members have met with numerous high-level policy and lawmakers to advocate for bringing a gender lens to the table.

A delegation of WDN’s Immigration Circle met with senior White House staff – Cecilia Muñoz, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, and Stephanie Valencia, Associate Director of the Office of Public Engagement. The delegation urged the Obama Administration to use executive authority to change some of the most egregious enforcement and deportation practices. Our message was that the Administration should allow for more case-by-case review of deportations so that families weren’t being torn apart, as this is consistent with our American values.

In 2013 the Immigration Circle supported an innovative women-led advocacy campaign called We Belong Together. We Belong Together is “a campaign to mobilize women in support of common-sense immigration reform that will keep families together and empower women.” These organizing efforts amplified the message of immigration as a women’s issue.