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    Washington, DC,June 27, 2013 -- The Women’s Refugee Commission applauds the U.S. Senate in its historic passage of S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013. This comprehensive immigration reform legislation is a long overdue victory for human rights and due process that would put millions of women, children and families on a pathway to citizenship.

    “Today, the Senate has demonstrated its broad commitment to sensible, humane and lasting immigration reform that includes many protections for women, children and families,” said Sarah Costa, Executive Director of the Women's Refugee Commission (WRC). “While the bill is not perfect, and the road through the House of Representatives will be difficult, today’s Senate vote is a big step forward for immigrant rights.”

    The legislation would make many of the 5 million undocumented women and one million undocumented children currently in this country eligible for legalization and, ultimately, full citizenship. It would also reunite many families, protect important due process rights and expand the use of alternatives to detention.

    “This legislation will give immigrant women and children the opportunity to become full members of our communities, build a strong future for themselves and their families, and contribute fully to the social and economic fabric of the United States,” said Michelle Brané, director, Migrant Rights and Justice Program at the WRC.

    S. 744 includes many crucial protections for immigrant women, children and families that WRC has fought for since 1995. The legislation would increase due process protections for unaccompanied alien children and other vulnerable migrants during border and interior immigration enforcement, and require DHS to give special consideration to family unity during apprehension, detention and removal. The bill also recognizes the unique and important contributions of immigrant women to our communities and economy and provides them with more opportunities to get on a pathway to citizenship than any immigration reform bill in history. These major improvements only add to the bill’s keystone victory of a securing a full path to citizenship to over 11 million immigrants.

    Despite these victories, the bill, like any true compromise, contains some concerning concessions and gaps.

    “We are disappointed that S. 744 requires vast expansion of border enforcement, and are concerned about the implications of increased enforcement and border triggers on the well-being of migrant women and children and their ability to achieve citizenship,” said Brané. “Steep fees and penalties and limitations to the family visa system will also have detrimental consequences for immigrant women and children.”

    The Women’s Refugee Commission encourages the House to follow the Senate’s lead, take a comprehensive approach to immigration reform, and work to protect and improve upon provisions affecting women’s and children’s rights and opportunities.

    “As the House takes up immigration reform, we will resist efforts to advance piecemeal, enforcement-only legislation that harms women and children and tears families apart,” said Brané. “We look forward to working with the House and Senate and House conferees on a bill that guarantees the full and fair inclusion of women, children and families.”