Media (NAM), an ethnic media coalition, is hosting community meetings each day
this week in five cities across the U.S. In the third community meeting
on Wednesday, pollster Sergio Bendixen presented NAM’s newly released report on
women immigrants, and six panelists discussed the report.
titled Women Immigrants: Stewards of the 21st Century Family, is based on a
poll conducted in 2008, in which approximately 1,000 female immigrants from 44
countries were interviewed in ten languages. Interviewees range from those who
have been in the U.S. for
less than two years to those to those who have been in the U.S. for over
provides an insight to, "Who today’s immigrants are and how they adapt to
American culture and see their future in this new homeland," according to
Angela Kelley, vice president for Immigration Policy and Advocacy of the Center
for American Progress.
said that they came to the U.S.
to reunite with their family, or to improve their children’s lives.
said that most immigrants are faced with the barriers of economics, language,
health care, and discrimination. As the poll found out, most women immigrants
who do professional jobs in their home country would start out taking low skill
positions when they first come to the U.S., and the average earnings for a
month at their first job is $500.
percent of those interviewed claimed they speak little or no English, although
Bendixen cannot assure that it reflects their actual English ability. They
generally overestimate their ability, he said.
for their English not being fluent, Bendixen pointed out, is that most English-as-a-second-language
teachers can barely speak the immigrants’ language, so they can’t teach
effectively. Another factor is that immigrants’ work schedules often conflict
with class time, so they can’t attend English classes.
Narasaki, president and executive director of the Asian American Justice Center
said that there aren’t enough classes, the classes aren’t accessible enough,
the classes are not of a high-enough quality. She suggests investing funds into
these classes, especially in research on how to improve the quality of classes.
alarming fact is that 30 percent of women immigrants said they have no health
insurance. Bendixen added that they also have no access to medicaid or
Deborah Axt, Legal Director of Make The Road New York further points out that women
immigrants, especially those who are not making enough money, are subjected to
sexual abuse from their bosses, and their rights should be better protected.
Garza, president of Legal Momentum said that although, "Immigrant women tend to
be at the bottom of the economic ladder," they make a big contribution to the
economic growth, and that they often work as nannies, taking care of our
children, so we should do more to protect their rights.
Census found that this year there are 19.5 million women immigrants in the U.S., compared
with 10.1 million in 1990, and there are more women than men immigrants.
Congress might discuss immigration reform later this year, according to Kelley.