Women Immigrants in the United States
This report explores the key themes that emerged during a conference convened on September 9, 2002 by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the Migration Policy Institute. The conference brought together scholars, policymakers, judges, and advocates to discuss the particular social and legal issues facing women immigrants in the United States and to consider various policy prescriptions.
The authors find that although women represented more than half of the 9.1 million immigrants who entered the U.S. legally during the 1990s, a dearth of research focusing on women immigrants exists. In addition, the authors find that two-thirds of female immigrants in the U.S. originate from Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Middle East and that their motives for migrating parallel those of their male counterparts. Despite the spectrum of socioeconomic status, educational background, legal status, and country of origin, female immigrants often face similar challenges.
In response to these challenges, conference participates emphasized the need to address the following topics: healthcare, domestic violence, housing discrimination, employment, limited protection for refugees and asylees, and judicial limitations. Moreover, participants discussed the ways in which gender-neutral federal legislation enacted since September 11 has had a disproportionate impact on women. Specifically, they highlight the cooperation between local law enforcement in immigration prosecution as an example where female immigrants having suffered domestic abuse may be dissuaded from filing a report for fear of deportation.