Trying to shift the immigration debate to include the idea of making it easier for families to reunify with relatives hoping to immigrate, Sen. Mazie Hirono this afternoon presided over a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing where advocates pushed for cutting backlogs for women and families.

Noting that much of the debate has focused on making it easier for employers to get workers, Hirono, herself a Japanese immigrant, said at the hearing:

“As we look to reform our immigration laws, we must consider how women and families will be affected.  Historically, women have been treated as unequal in our immigration system, with citizenship tied to their husbands.  In fact, 100 years ago, if a U.S. citizen woman married a non-citizen she could lose her citizenship.

Mee Moua, President and Executive Director of the Asian American Justice Center, said at the hearing, that as of November 2012, nearly 4.3 million close family members were waiting in the family visa backlogs.”

Congress is expected to take up immigration reform next month.

Kery Murakami