A wave of protests have swept the nation as immigration reform activists grow frustrated with the slow progress of immigration reform.
Protests have been held in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Washington, among other states. Most recently, a group of demonstrators in Tucson, Arizona locked themselves to the tires on an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) bus taking people to Operation Streamline. Operation Streamline is a federal program that apprehends immigrants crossing the border, sentences them to jail time, then deports them, often in one day. The program has deported at least 70,000 people and has been criticized as unconstitutional by the Warren Institute at the University of California Berkeley School of Law.
During a rally last Tuesday in Washington, DC, eight members of Congress were arrested in in an act of civil disobedience. The Congress members joined thousands of activists in blocking the streets near the National Mall to send the message to lawmakers to act on immigration reform. The Senate passed an immigration reform bill in June, but Republican House leaders have not scheduled floor time for immigration bills, and have previously been unwilling to consider it.
Women are especially at risk if the current immigration reform plan dies. Among other positive changes, the reforms will, for example, double the number of U-visas–reserved for people who have been victims of crime in the U.S. and are willing to cooperate with law enforcement–from 10,000 to 20,000, and expand their scope to include victims of workplace abuse. U-visas provide a lifeline for undocumented women stuck with abusive partners, who may threaten to report them to police or withdraw their sponsorship petition. In the past three years, all 10,000 available U-visas have been used.