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Comprehensive Immigration Reform: The Cost of Doing Nothing Is Too High for Women and Children

Three months have passed since the Senate's historic and bipartisan passage of S.744, The Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act. Now it's the House of Representatives' turn to act. So far, the House has not made much progress towards passing a comprehensive bill that includes a pathway to citizenship, leaving millions of immigrant women, children and families in limbo. But that does not mean comprehensive immigration reform is dead.

On September 20, the efforts of a bipartisan group of Representatives (informally referred to as the "Gang of 7") to produce a comprehensive immigration bill came to a sudden halt. The group disbanded and many predicted immigration reform dead. However, on that same day, Representatives Grijalva (D-AZ) and Vela (D-TX) introduced the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity (CIR ASAP) Act of 2013. This legislation, the first comprehensive immigration bill to be introduced by the U.S. House of Representatives since the Senate passed its bill in June, represents the type of smart, workable and forward-looking approach that is needed to put the undocumented on a path to citizenship, reunite families and protect women and children.

Read more: Comprehensive Immigration Reform: The Cost of Doing Nothing Is Too High for Women and Children

Beyond 2015. Making Sure the Post-2015 Development Agenda Leaves No One Behind

A major planned theme of the opening of this year’s General Assembly has been the post-2015 agenda, the name given to the development framework that will be established to take the place of the current Millennium Development Goals. The MDGs, as they are commonly known, are loved and hated in equal measure. Many supporters argue they have captured the public’s imagination and driven development like no other piece of work the UN has undertaken. Detractors point to extremely uneven achievement of these basic development goals, as well as exacerbated inequality. Whatever your view of them, there will be a new set of goals to take their place, and this time around the process of coming up with an internationally agreed upon set of goals will be the result of intensive consultations across the world at local, national and international levels, and on the Internet.

Read more: Beyond 2015. Making Sure the Post-2015 Development Agenda Leaves No One Behind

High-Level Meeting Shines Spotlight on Disability and Development

On September 23, UN entities, Member States and civil society organizations from around the world will come together in New York for a High-Level Meeting on Disability and Development during this year’s opening of the UN General Assembly. The objective of the meeting is to discuss how concerned actors can ensure that the post-2015 process and all other development processes are disability-inclusive. The post-2015 process is all the work currently being undertaken through consultations, reports, events, discussions, etc., to identify what development goals should be put in place in 2015, when the current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire.

The Women's Refugee Commission has been active in preparations for this event, and looks forward to participating on the day.

Read more: High-Level Meeting Shines Spotlight on Disability and Development

Women Rally in Washington for Immigration Reform, Building on Foundation Laid By Women's Refugee Commission

Yesterday, hundreds of women from across the country came together in Washington, D.C., to call on Congress to pass immigration reform that treats women and families fairly. These women are tired of waiting for Congress to address the need for common sense reform that honors the contributions of immigrant women, offers them a lawful and safe way to reunite with their families and enables them to build a better future for their children. Following a press conference in which women and children shared their stories of lives torn apart by our broken immigration system, 105 women -- including 25 undocumented women -- linked arms, sat down in an intersection in the shadow of the Capitol Dome, and refused to move until they were arrested by U.S. Capitol Police.

Read the full Huffington Post article here.

Meet Walei Sabry, Program Intern with the Disabilities Program


Walei Sabry is an intern with the Disabilities Program. He has a masters in disability studies and specializes in disability awareness, physical and social accessibility, and assistive technology. As a member of the blind and Arab American communities, Walei hopes to take the knowledge he gains from his education, the disability community, WRC and other NGOs to Egypt and join the efforts of the disability movement there. Also, Walei is usually carrying a deck of Braille playing cards if you’re up for a challenge!

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born in Egypt and immigrated to New York when I was nine with my family. I have been progressively going blind since I was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa at the age of four. I was able to see colors, shapes, faces and read regular size print until I was 19. For the past nine years, I’ve been adjusting to living as a blind person.

Read more: Meet Walei Sabry, Program Intern with the Disabilities Program

ICE's Parental Interests Directive: Helping Families Caught Between the Immigration and Child Welfare Systems

I met Marta (not her real name) in a migrant shelter in Nogales, Mexico. She had been deported from the U.S. only days before, leaving behind her four children – three of them U.S. citizens – who were split between foster homes and facing permanent separation from their mother.  Two years earlier, Marta had been apprehended in her home, while her children were present. She remembers her daughters crying, as she was taken away, “mommy, no; mommy no.” But Marta was not given an opportunity to arrange for a relative or friend to care for her children. Instead, they were placed into the child welfare system and she was taken first to a local jail and later to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facility.

Read more: ICE's Parental Interests Directive: Helping Families Caught Between the Immigration and Child...

Young People on the Move: The Importance of Transferable Skills

Originally featured on the Brookings Education and Development Blog, this blog post was written by Jenny Perlman Robinson, former WRC Senior Program Officer, and Lauren Greubel from the Center of Universal Education.

Yesterday the world observed International Youth Day, although one has to glance no further than the daily front page of a newspaper to be reminded of both the promise and vulnerability of the largest cohort of our population.  This year’s theme focused on migrant youth, a group of young people who, despite the fact that they are a growing segment of the population, are often overlooked by programs, services and policies.  Today, young people represent over 10 percent of the world’s 214 million international migrants.

Read more: Young People on the Move: The Importance of Transferable Skills

Youth Migration: Fleeing Insecurity in Search of a Better Life

Boys on train La Bestia cropped

Boys from Central America riding on "La Bestia," which they hope will bring them to a safer life in the U.S. Screen still from the documentary film, “Which Way Home.” Courtesy of Mr. Mudd/Documentress Films.

People are often surprised when I tell them I advocate on behalf of unaccompanied youth, many of them as young as 11 or 12, coming to the United States alone. “What do you mean alone, they must be with someone” people often reply. But I really do mean alone. I mean youth who leave their homes, and on their own find smugglers or other migrants to help them find their way North. They board buses, ride on top of trains or hide in the back of trucks alone, with no one protecting them. They are vulnerable to unimaginable dangers from smugglers, drug cartels, traffickers and even other migrants. Yet, to these youth, the dangers they face in their home country are worse than the dangers they face on their journey, so they risk their lives to reach a place of safety.

Read more: Youth Migration: Fleeing Insecurity in Search of a Better Life

Towards Inclusion and Beyond

It was Libby's* turn to speak, and so she did. She put together her statement in as articulate manner as she could. She spoke for about 30 seconds, sharing her thoughts and reaching out to resonate with somebody…anybody. When she was finished, there was an awkward silence in the room. It wasn't because she had said something wrong. It wasn't because she had offended anybody. It was because no one in the room had actually understood what she said. And so, without a response, or any bit of probing to find out what she had been trying to say, the moderator thanked her and moved on to the next question.

Read more: Towards Inclusion and Beyond

Bringing Communities Together to Tackle Problems

Communities are usually best placed to identify and implement solutions to their problems. Outsiders often only see and tackle the most visible needs and miss opportunities for addressing underlying issues and engaging communities and tapping their capacity. 

Watch this short video, produced by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees with the Women's Refugee Commission, to see an example of how community-based protection addresses underlying issues and engages communities in identifying and implementing their own solutions.