In a release, the senators say that the immigration bill, in its current form, “inadvertently disadvantages women who are trying to immigrate to the United States.” How? “By shifting the emphasis from family-based legal immigration system to an employment-based green card system.” Because employment would be the focus of the immigration system under the Senate’s bill — it eliminates two different visas for married couples and families — men would be favored 4-to-1.
In response, the female Senator’s amendment, championed by the only immigrant in the senate Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), seeks to create 30,000 visas for jobs that are commonly held by female immigrants. They are proposing a woman-oriented “Tier 3″ of work visas — to complement a high-skill “Tier 1″ and low-skilled “Tier 2″ — that would be dedicated to professions like domestic work, teaching, and health care, where female immigrants tend to find their careers.
Seventy percent of women who come to the U.S. do so using the family-based immigration system, compared to 61 percent of men. But given the new bill’s emphasis on visas for high-skill careers like engineering, for which men are usually able to receive more training in other countries, and lower-skilled visas that will largely go to the 56 percent of low-wage immigrant workers who are men, women could be left out in the new system.
The female senators backing the legislation include Sens. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Patty Murray (D-WA), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) ,Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and Mary Landrieu (D-LA). One Republican, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) has also signed on in support of the legislation.