As we anticipate immigration reform

  • Imagine dropping your child off at school everyday afraid that you won’t be back at pickup time.
  • Imagine staying with a violent partner because calling the cops could tear you away from your kids.
  • Imagine arranging for a neighbor to take care of your children in case your disappear, which could happen any time, any day.

Reality: this is not in Afghanistan or Mexico. This is here. This is the United States. That is what’s been happening for years under U.S. immigration policy.

Public opinion today strongly favors fair, common-sense immigration reform. What’s more, the Obama administration and Congress finally appear committed to making it happen. In January 2013, President Obama and leading Senators announced their plans for immigration reform, offering a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. --- more than half of whom are women. In February, Congress passed a strong and inclusive Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) with full protections for immigrant women, Native American women, and members of the LGBT community. Given this unprecedented momentum and opportunity, it's time to make sure that the realities and needs of all immigrants -- especially women and children -- are included in all aspects of immigration overhaul.

In June, the Senate passed an immigration reform bill that could help millions of immigrants live up to their full potential, and help our country do the same. It includes an unprecedented path to citizenship for millions of New Americans and measures that protect and include women's rights, workers' rights, family unity, and survivors of violence.

But the path to citizenship included in the current bill comes at a huge cost: increased resources for punitive anti-immigrant enforcement measures that -- as Breakthrough has documented -- have already led to decades of abuse, violence, even death and would have devastating consequences for millions of people. The allocation of $47 billion towards militarization of an already-secure border with drones, high-tech surveillance, and 20,000 additional border agents, will undoubtedly lead to the criminalization, detention and deportation of millions of people that live and work here.

As the current bill moves in to the House, this is our chance to push for immigration reform that protects human rights and due process for all. 

A majority of people in the U.S. want commonsense, fair and humane immigration reform. Together, we must continue to demand humane, sensible, inclusive reform that improves the lives of millions of immigrant women, men, and families -- and makes us a better nation for it.


The face of immigration in the U.S. is increasingly female. Women now make up 51% of all immigrants, up from 38% in 2000. Immigrant women, lawfully present or otherwise, are job creators and community leaders. They enrich America’s economy and culture.

Yet the voices and unique struggles of immigrant women remain hidden from public narrative and absent from most policy discussion. More to the point, while the U.S. benefits from the women who move here, we deny them their human rights. While the human rights of all immigrants to the U.S. have declined over the past several years, cruel anti-immigrant laws, policies, and practices have had especially dramatic impact on immigrant women and their families. These measures force immigrant women to choose between the threat of an abusive husband and the threat of deportation if they call the police. They send pregnant women to give birth in shackles with federal agents by their side. They trap women and LGBTQ individuals in immigrant detention centers under the constant threat of physical and sexual abuse.

Many immigrant parents and children have also been separated by deportation or indefinite detention, often without due process. Especially in states such as Arizona and Alabama, where police may check the immigration status of anyone inviting “reasonable suspicion” of being undocumented, women and families live in fear, rarely leaving home at all.

They have reason to fear: between July 2010 and September 2012, the U.S. deported more than 204,000 parents of U.S.-citizen children. Currently, there are at least 5,100 U.S. children living in foster care who are unable to reunite with their detained or deported parents. 1.4 million immigrants were deported between 2009 and 2012.

This is not the America we stand for. We are all entitled to dignity, equality, and justice  -- and we must rebuild our immigration system with these human rights values at its core. Now is the time to work together to build an America in which everyone is safe in their homes, secure in their families, and limitless in their dreams.

#ImHere: The Call

Keep your daughter safe – or keep your family together?
What call would you make?

"The Call" is the story of a mother’s impossible choice — and an urgent call to action for the human rights of immigrant women in the United States.

With your help, #ImHere will make the human rights of immigrant women impossible to ignore.

As we count down to immigration reform, stand up to say #ImHere for immigrant women and families.

What you can do

1. Watch, share, and discuss the film #ImHere: The Call. What call would you make?

2. Watch and share our satirical video to Deport the Statue of Liberty.

3. Spread the word! Tweet/Facebook post: We need inclusive #immigration reform that protects immigrant women's rights. Watch "The Call-" http://ow.ly/hKLJD #ImHere @breakthrough

4. Join us to support the National Day of Action against border militarization.  Tweet this: Increased "enforcement" will result in more abuse & violence; it's NOT "reform." ow.ly/mE9Er #CIR #Immigration #ImHere #LGBT 

5. Join our campaign mailing list for more news and calls to action.


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  • Screen Shot 2013-09-17 at 11.26.13 AM

    Deport The Statue

    Credits: Producers: Ishita Srivastava, Dana Variano Assistant Producer: Nadia Rasul Writer: Dana Variano Videographer, Editor: Emilie Jackson Stage & Lighting: Michael Hauer Voiceover: Sam Dingman Graphics: Garret Walter

  • Screen Shot 2012-06-20 at 10.51.52 AM

    Esmeralda: A Transgender Detainee Speaks Out

    Courage comes in many different forms. For Esmeralda a transgender asylum seeker from Mexico who faced horrific circumstances in immigration detention, it came in the form of seeking justice. Kept in a segregated cell with other transgender detainees, she was abused and traumatized beyond belief. Esmeralda never realized that her experience in detention would match […]

  • media_restorert_juana_129x81

    Juana Villegas: A pregnant immigrant woman detained

    Juana Villegas was nine months pregnant when she was stopped for careless driving, taken from her children, and then detained in jail where she remained shackled while giving birth.


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