Republican Congresswoman: Immigration Reform Is A Women’s Issue


Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), left, at a November naturalization ceremony

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), left, at a November naturalization ceremony

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), left, at a November naturalization ceremony

At a summit on women in politics Wednesday, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) argued that comprehensive immigration reform should be looked upon as a women’s issue and a family issue.

Politico hosted four members of Congress on the panel as part of its Women Rule Summit. Asked by about the number one issue the women hear about from constituents, Ros-Lehtinen noted that immigration reform is the top priority in her majority-Hispanic district. “For them, even if they have their immigration status approved and they don’t have to worry about it, in my district immigration reform remains a priority. There’s a great sense of frustration that the Senate has already acted, the House has yet to act.”

Noting that immigration and jobs are very much tied together in her South Florida district, she expounded on how much the issue impacts women.

ROS-LEHTINEN: Immigration is really a woman issue. It’s a family-centered issue and I think we need to focus it more that way and look at how it impacts domestic violence also — if you’re an immigrant who does not have papers, you’re less likely to the police or any law enforcement official that you’re being abused, or that your employer is not paying you correctly. So domestic violence, human trafficking, all of these issues are tied to immigration and definitely women are gravely impacted by the lack of immigration reform. … This issue of immigration directly impacts women — and it’s usually the mom and the kids.

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), also on the panel, praised Ros-Lehtinen’s work on the issue. “We are really proud of that Senate immigration bill and want to get it done,” she noted.

75 percent of all immigrants are women and children, while 51 percent of all undocumented workers are women. The bipartisan Senate bill passed in June with the support of 19 of the 20 Senate women.

But Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) has refused to allow a vote in the House on the Senate bill. While some of his colleagues have offered excuses for House inaction, ranging from the early technical problems with the website to the civil war in Syria, Ros-Lehtinen and other House Republicans from districts with significant immigrant populations have been pushing for action.