Immigration Reform 2013: Protecting Assaulted Women Must Be Part Of Any Immigration Law

This isn’t another immigrant sob story, as some so-called Americans would put it. It’s about America, a place where protection matters until it comes to certain groups of people. For migrant and undocumented farm-working women, rape can be an everyday occurrence while on the job. And to make matters worse for some women, their working status isn’t the only thing that’s undocumented. Because of the fear of deportation, silence is the only viable response to their cruel rapists.

Those who are skeptical of this overlooked, emergent problem are probably thinking of at least two preventive measures. According to a Washington Post article published over a year ago titled, "For battered immigrant women, fear of deportation becomes abusers’ weapon, but 2 laws can overcome that," the U visa and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) are named as solutions. However, with the anticipated new evidence from the upcoming premiere of the film, Rape in the Fields/Violación de un Sueño, it becomes clear that Congress needs to readdress and reassess this grave matter. Can we count on progress from Congress? That is why American values are at stake.


Watch Rape in the Fields on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

With deportation on the rise under the Obama administration, hope is invested in the status quo to protect victims of abuse and unintended targets of immigration laws. Currently, the U visa permits victims of abuse, human trafficking, and sexual crimes to achieve legal residency if they assist law enforcement with prosecution. The other method of protection is through VAWA, but according to the Immigration Center for Women and Children, “a battered noncitizen must be the spouse or child of an abusive U.S. citizen or permanent resident.” Considering that the protection for these women is so conditional, the intensifying problem of rape in the fields is even more deplorable. 

When it comes to migrant and undocumented women, the values that are put into law, which work to mitigate violence against women, aren’t successful by a long shot. These women are integral working members of our economy, yet they are neglected, presumably because profit seekers view them as unimportant and disposable.

There is a severe need to significantly adjust current notions about the economics, politics and legalization of immigration; and to ensure that human rights are recognized for the integrity of America, itself.. Providing greater protections for these women is a necessary first step.

Read comments from a recent debate between left-wing and right-wing researchers about immigration reform in 2013.