Women represent the new face of immigrants coming to the United States, according to a report released earlier this year by New America Media, a nonprofit organization that disseminates information from ethnic media outlets. The survey involved a total of 1,002 telephone interviews across the United States conducted during August and September 2009.
Women Immigrants: Stewards of the 21st Century Family updates the traditional narrative of solo male migration and reveals that more and more women, many of them Latinas, are taking the journey. Indeed, of the 18.9 million immigrant women reported by the U.S. Census, approximately 53% are from Latin America.
With 49 percent of the U.S. immigrants being women, the bulk of them — whether from Latin America, Asia or Africa — reported that they came here to join family members already in the United States. Thirty eight percent said they wanted to join relatives here and twenty-two percent said they wanted a better life for their children. Two percent said they wanted to become American citizens.
Moreover, the report indicates that many immigrant women are proving successful in this endeavor. Over 90 percent of women immigrants interviewed reported that their family units, including husband and children, were intact. Yet this accomplishment has not come easily, requiring women immigrants to overcome substantial challenges, including serious economic barriers finding employment as well as difficulties in being able to hold their families together and helping their children achieve success. The report also cites access to quality health care and the “language barrier” as other major problems for immigrant women.
Notably, while all immigrant women believe discrimination against them is increasing, Latina immigrants face the highest levels of ethnic discrimination. As the report states, “It is no coincidence that this group of women has experienced the greatest number of immigration raids in their communities.”
Moreover, although the majority of immigrant women from Korea, India, Africa, and China currently earn more than double the salary of their first job in the United States, Latina immigrants had not done as well. Nearly half of Latina immigrants reported making less than $1000 a month.
This report highlights the growing number of foreign-born Latinas and their contribution to the overall health of the nation as leaders of their family. Several studies indicate that Latina immigrants are less like to receive adequate reproductive health care, including annual Pap smears, contraceptives, HIV treatment, and sex education, than white women. The health status needs of Latina immigrants and immigrant women in general needs to be a matter of great concern to advocates and policy-makers.
For more information on the reproductive health of Latina immigrants, click here.
By Ivette Sanchez, Policy and Advocacy Intern