As Congress contemplates reform of our immigration process, many advocates are challenging our representatives to create an immigration system that is gender inclusive—one that values the contributions of immigrant women’s lives and work equitably. Critiques of current immigration policy point to unique factors that affect women and families—such as the typical methods by which women enter the country (more often through family-based visas than employment-based) or the high number of immigrant women employed in domestic and childcare positions—that in previous immigration debates has not been taken into account. In addition, some of the evidentiary requirements to navigate the legal immigration system put women at a disadvantage—i.e., when requirements to apply for regularization of status are either difficult or impossible to meet by women.

Just looking at the roadmap to citizenship contained within the Senate bill, here are a few initial ways women and families’ needs are included, as well as a few key questions to consider:

The roadmap to citizenship requires either continuous employment or average income or resources that are not less than 125 percent of the Federal poverty level to adjust status from “Registered Provisional Immigrant” (RPI) to green card holder. This could be devastating to millions of women and stay-at-home moms, but the proposed bill grants exceptions to continuous employment for time spent on maternity leave and for primary caretakers.

What kind of process do you think would be fair to provide proof of caretaker status and not unnecessarily burden women? Will the income requirement result in bias against women or women-headed households?

Thousands of women work in the paperless economy as domestic workers, caring for children and the elderly and cleaning houses, doing work that makes other work possible. They don’t generally receive pay stubs for their work, so a proof-of-work requirement could leave them behind. In the bill, there appears to be flexibility for employment documentation that will allow thousands of domestic workers and women in the informal economy to qualify.

Is this process, which could include sworn affidavits or bank records, still too onerous?

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