THE BLOG

Promise to Protect Immigrant Women's Rights

03/27/2013 04:23 pm ET | Updated May 27, 2013

We stand today at a watershed moment. At least three moments, actually. And I believe that if we seize them all together, right now, we can advance the rights and improve the lives of all women in America. Especially if men join the call.

What are those three moments? First, today, we stand at a potential tipping point on immigration reform. Second, on top of that, lawmakers are -- finally -- beginning to hear the call for the inclusion of immigrant women's needs and rights, as we saw with the hard-earned reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act and, more recently, the holding of an unprecedented Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on how comprehensive immigration reform should address the needs of women and families. And third, events in Steubenville -- and their aftermath -- have prompted some serious and overdue self-examination about the elements of our culture that excuse and perpetuate violence against women.

Add these all up, and it is clear that now is the time to act. Now is the time to make sure that lawmakers, starting with the all-male "gang of eight," include the rights and needs -- including the safety and security -- of women in immigration reform. We need to disconnect the path to citizenship from formal employment, as more than half of undocumented women work informally. We need to include protections for trafficked women. We need to ensure due process and prevent needless deportations that tear families apart. And we need to strengthen protections for the women who do not call the authorities to report abuse for fear that they themselves will be deported.

Why men? Because this issue affects all of us. Male and female, immigrant and native. We know that when women are subject to persistent inequality or and pervasive violence, they cannot fully participate in society; and individuals, families, neighborhoods, and nations -- including our own -- cannot move forward. And if immigration reform does not address the rights and needs of all those it affects, then women and families -- and therefore all of us -- will not reach our full potential.

But if men -- and women, together -- take action to demand fair and inclusive reform, we can make real change that reflects American values. If men, and women, speak out and stand up against the culture that perpetuates discrimination and violence -- against immigrants, against women, against anyone with less power than others -- we can make real, deep, and lasting change.

Breakthrough has recently launched a global campaign calling on men -- with women as allies and partners -- to do just that: to take concrete action to stand up, in their own ways, to stop violence against women. Join Ring the Bell: One million men. One million promises and make your promise today: to contact a legislator, to share a video that illuminates immigrant women's brave and challenging choices, to examine and end, in ways small and grand, inequalities in your own world. Join us. Together, we can build a country in which all Americans can live freely, fully, and without fear.