In the News

Quick Hit: Women Immigrants Aren't Who We Think They Are

Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Samhita Mukhopadhyay
Feministing.com

And this report tells us why.

Some interesting tidbits via New America Media,

The result shows that women immigrants' main challenges are helping their children succeed and keeping their families together. The obstacles are formidable. 79% of Latin Americans, 73% of Vietnamese, 70% of Korean and 63% of Chinese acknowledged speaking little or no English. They also confront antiimmigrant discrimination, lack of health care and low-paying employment.

Bendixen said that this is something that shakes the perception that immigration is always about economics and dollars. In fact, many of the women start out in low-paying jobs even though they may have held professional positions in their home countries. In the United States they might work as a hotel maid, waitress, house cleaner and textile worker.

These results indicate that women may be putting devotion to the well-being of their families ahead of personal job status and pride in choosing to emigrate.

Also, on the racist assumption that women immigrants are somehow submissive, not only to the men in their families but also in the work environment.

Among other findings the poll showed that their roles change within their households. The overwhelming majority--Latin American (81%), Chinese (71%), Vietnamese (68%), African (66%) and Arabic (53%)--said they had become more assertive at home and in public after coming to the United States.

"We cannot assume that they are submissive back in their countries. They come from smaller towns where you are very close to your family, they want to make sure everyone is okay. And when they get here, they also want to make sure they have a better living. Sometimes they face domestic violence, but that also happens here in the United States," said Silvia Henriquez, Executive Director for the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health.