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TELEPRESSER: Experts to Discuss Effects of Senate Immigration Bill & Amendments on Families, Women

For immediate release: May 20, 2013

Contact: Diana Quick: dianaq@wrcommission.org 212-551-3087           

TELEPRESSER: Experts to Discuss Effects of Senate Immigration Bill & Amendments on Families, Women 

Women’s & Immigrant Rights Leaders to Join Deported Mother, Child Separated from Parents to Discuss Needs of Families in Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

***Press briefing to be held by phone on Tuesday, May 21, 2:00pm EST***

What:                           National telephone press briefing on the impact of immigration policies that separate parents from their U.S. citizen children

Who:                            We Belong Together, Women for Common-Sense Immigration Reform

                                    Speakers include:

  • Pramila Jayapal, Co-Chair, We Belong Together
  • Emily Butera, Senior Program Officer, Women’s Refugee Commission
  • Margarita Torres, deported mother of U.S. citizen children
  • José Machado, Students Working for Equal Rights, United We Dream, youth separated from his mother as a result of her deportation
  • Esmeralda Flores, Attorney, Comité Pro-Defensa del Migrante, Tijuana, Mexico

When:                         Tuesday, May 21, 2:00pm EDT / 11:00am PDT

To participate:           Dial in to 805-399-1000.  Access code 188849#.


Washington, DC-  As the Senate Judiciary Committee prepares to consider amendments to the Gang of Eight's immigration bill that would prevent the return of deported parents and block immigration judges from exercising discretion to prevent deportations that would separate families, We Belong Together will hold a telepresser featuring women’s and immigrant rights community leaders, including some who experienced family separation firsthand.

 In recent years, increased immigration enforcement measures have resulted in record-breaking removals, tearing families apart and directly harming children, the majority of whom are U.S. citizens. Currently, 4.5 million U.S. citizen children live in mixed-legal status families with at least one or more undocumented parent, and are therefore at risk of being separated from a parent at any time. In fact, between July 2010 and September 2012, the United States issued nearly 205,000 deportations for parents of U.S. citizen children. 

Speaker Bios

Pramila Jayapal, Co-Chair, We Belong Together

Pramila Jayapal is a Distinguished Taconic Fellow at the Center for Community Change, a Distinguished Fellow at the University of Washington Law School and an award-winning immigrant rights advocate.  She is the founder of OneAmerica, Washington state's largest immigrant rights organization, where she served as Executive Director for eleven years until May 2012, working on civil rights issues post-9/11, on federal immigration reform and on state campaigns to protect drivers licenses and in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants.  Pramila was born in India and came to the United States at the age of 16 by herself.  She has also worked on women's reproductive rights internationally, and is the author of a book and many articles. 

Emily Butera, Senior Program Officer, Women's Refugee Commission

Emily Butera serves as Senior Program Officer for the Migrant Rights and Justice Program at the Women’s Refugee Commission, where she manages the organization’s parental rights project and advocates for the protection of immigrant women, children, and families. She has co-authored numerous Women’s Refugee Commission reports, including Torn Apart by Immigration Enforcement, a 2010 study of the impact of detention on parental rights.  Emily holds an M.A. in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a B.A. in Human Rights and Nationalism from Kenyon College.

Margarita Torres, Deported mother of U.S. citizen children

Margarita Torres was deported from the U.S. two years ago, after living for more than a decade in Washington State, and having children who are US citizens. Her family was subject to an ICE raid and she decided to face the judge while her family moved to another state in order to ensure that her children could stay in school.  Her youngest daughter, Angelica, came to Mexico with her, and as a child born in the U.S., with little experience in Mexico, has faced difficulties integrating into the Mexican school system. Margarita currently works as a street food vendor in Mexico City.

José Machado, Students Working for Equal Rights, United We Dream

José Machado, a high school senior in Miami, has been separated from his mother for over two years. His mother was stopped and detained for driving without a driver’s license and then deported.  José ended up separated from his twin brother and in the foster care system, and is fighting for the right to reunite with his mother.

Esmeralda Flores, Attorney, Coalición Pro-Defensa del Migrante, Tijuana, Mexico

Esmeralda Flores is an attorney who graduated from the Universidad Autonoma de Baja California (UABC).  She currently works at the Coalición Pro-Defensa del Migrante A.C., as part of the Northern Mexico Initiative, where she detects and documents human rights violations against migrants, and provides legal advocacy on behalf of her clients.  Her clients include mothers who have been deported to Tijuana and who have been separated from their children in the U.S.

The Women's Refugee Commission works to improve the lives and protect the rights of women, children and youth displaced by conflict and crisis. We research their needs, identify solutions and advocate for programs and policies to strengthen their resilience and drive change in humanitarian practice. www.womensrefugeecommission.org.

We Belong Together is a national campaign anchored by the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum.  The campaign engages women around the country in working toward common sense immigration reform that will treat women and families fairly.  www.WeBelongTogether.org.