Illinois Women Add Their Voices to Debate on Senate Immigration Bill

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - BusinessAs the full Senate begins debate on historic immigration reform, two domestic workers will travel from Illinois to Washington DC to participate in a women’s advocacy day organized by We Belong Together — a collaboration of women’s and immigrant rights organizations mobilizing to demand common sense immigration reform that treats women fairly and keeps families together.

The Illinois delegates will join a diverse group of 100 women leaders from fourteen states who will visit the offices of their members of Congress to advocate for provisions in the Senate bill that will specifically meet the needs of women, children and families.

“Women and children make up 75 percent of all immigrants,” Vivien Labaton, Co-Chair of We Belong Together, says “and while the current bill gets a lot right for women and children, there is still much more to be done, including keeping the roadmap to citizenship affordable, ensuring the merit system doesn’t disadvantage women, expanding family reunification and making e-verify workable for household employers.”

Myrla Baldonado is one of the women who will travel to Washington to participate in the gathering. She is a Filipino migrant who works as a caregiver. Baldonado was heartbroken by the abuse and poverty wages she and her fellow immigrant domestic workers received and emerged as a labor activist. She was recently recognized by the White House as an AAIP Champion of Change in May and will bring these perspectives to Washington.

“I’m traveling to DC to advocate for immigration reform because it’s a women’s issue, a worker’s issue, and a family issue. It’s time for the 11 million undocumented people who are living in the shadows to be afforded a common sense and fair pathway to citizenship that ensures families are kept together and workers’ rights are protected,” said Rick Paragua, Filipino caregiver and delegate.

We Belong Together is a national campaign anchored by the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum. The campaign engages women around the country in working toward common sense immigration reform that will treat women fairly and keep families united. Latino Union collaborates with low-income, immigrant workers to develop the tools necessary to collectively improve social and economic conditions. The organization founded the Chicago Coalition of Household Workers to advocate for dignity and respect for domestic workers.

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