Over 100 women were arrested yesterday in Washington, D.C. after blocking the intersection outside of the United States House of Representatives to protest the House’s inaction on immigration reform.
The 104 women included 20 undocumented immigrants, the largest number of undocumented immigrant women to willingly submit to arrest. The women came from 20 states across the US. Another 200 supporters stood witness for the group, and 300 women and children gathered for a press conference before the protest.
The act of civil disobedience was organized to demand immigration reform that takes the priorities of women and children into account. According to America’s Voice, “Currently, 51% 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 US through the family visa system, which is so backlogged that women and children can wait decades to be reunited with their families.” Protesters demanded an immigration reform bill that includes a roadmap to citizenship for women and children, keeps families together, protects victims of violence and workplace abuse, protects the health of women and children, and does not focus on enforcement. The bill currently in question has a path to citizenship, but it focuses heavily on increasing enforcement and militarization.
The co-chair of We Belong Together: Women for Common Sense Immigration Reform, Pramila Jayapal, said, “Each one of us here today understands what incredibly high stakes we are talking about–immigration reform is not just a piece of legislation but the ability for us to take care of our families. 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.”
Media Resources: America’s Voice 9/12/2013; National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health Press Releases 9/12/2013; Feministing 9/12/2013