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About Immigration

Despite the growing number of immigrant women in the United States, their interests and concerns are often overlooked in public policy debates. IWPR’s research finds that women immigrants experience a number of challenges, such as reproductive health issues, domestic violence, and poor job quality within traditionally female positions. Many immigrant women—especially those who lack legal status—also face barriers to receiving support or services. To help address these challenges and raise the visibility of immigrant women’s contributions and concerns, IWPR conducts research on the social and economic circumstances of immigrant women and the resources available to them.

IWPR’s research finds that women immigrants experience a number of challenges, such as reproductive health issues, domestic violence, and poor job quality within traditionally female positions.

In February 2013, IWPR published two reports on immigrant in-home care workers, who are in growing demand to fill the need for elder care as the Baby Boom generation ages. These workers also provide assistance to people with disabilities or chronic illnesses. Women are 90 percent of in-home care workers and immigrants are 28 percent. IWPR’s reports present options for opening paths to visas and citizenship for these workers and expanding their training and career opportunities. Such policy and program improvements would help better the quality of care provided by in-home immigrant care workers.

IWPR also recently conducted a two-year study that examined the roles of religious congregations and nonprofit organizations in addressing the challenges faced by low-income Latina immigrants in Atlanta, GA; Phoenix, AZ; and Northern Virginia, a region within the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Based on more than 450 interviews with clergy and other organizational leaders, the study explored the circumstances of immigrant women in these areas and the resources that religious congregations and other nonprofit organizations offer to address immigrant women’s needs. The
report also examined how public policies can promote or restrict immigrants’ access to resources such as economic assistance, violence prevention and intervention, child care, and transportation.


Visit our external resources page for links to more information on this topic.

To see our experts on this and other initiatives, click here.

Latest Reports from IWPR

As Foreign-Born Worker Population Grows, Many Lack Paid Sick Days
by Alex Wang, Jeffrey Hayes, and Liz Ben - Ishai (July 2014)

Research demonstrates that low-wage workers and people of color are least likely to have access to paid sick days.This brief builds on previous research to provide an analysis of immigrant access to sick days using data from the 2013 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS).


Spring/Summer 2013 Newsletter-25th Anniversary Edition
by Institute for Women's Policy Research (August 2013)

This special 25th Anniversary edition of the newsletter presents a review of IWPR's policy research since our founding in 1987.


Women and the Care Crisis: Valuing In-Home Care in Policy and Practice
by Cynthia Hess, Ph.D., (April 2013)

The paper suggests that to improve the quality of in-home care jobs, address the industry’s anticipated labor shortage, and ensure that high-quality care is available in the United States, it is necessary to increase the value attributed to care work through critical changes in public policies and practices. These changes would benefit not only the women and men who are care workers or recipients, but also the nation overall. As a sector in which job growth is especially rapid, the care industry is integral to the U.S. economy; as a result, any changes that help to fill the gap in this industry and improve conditions for its workforce will strengthen the nation’s economy as a whole.


Improving Career Opportunities for Immigrant Women In-Home Care Workers
by Jane Henrici, Ph.D. (February 2013)

Improving Career Opportunities for Immigrant Women In-Home Care Workers is one of two IWPR studies focused on ways to improve labor conditions and rights among immigrant women in home care work. This report addresses the lack of employment options and career mobility that many foreign-born women who are care workers—particularly those with limited English proficiency—face within their jobs helping others. Using original expert interviews and an extensive review of the literature, IWPR’s research discusses the need to increase access to high-quality training that specifically targets the needs of immigrant women care workers. Such efforts can help them support themselves and their families through the critically valuable labor of providing assistance in homes to those who are disabled, chronically ill, or elderly and in need of help.

#I925, Report, 36 pages

Increasing Pathways to Legal Status for Immigrant In-Home Care Workers
by Cynthia Hess, Ph.D. and Jane Henrici, Ph.D. (February 2013)

This paper explores options for reforming the U.S. visa system to increase the pathways to legal status for undocumented immigrant women interested in providing long-term care for the elderly and for individuals with disabilities and chronic illnesses. Drawing on a review of relevant literature and consultations with experts, it examines the current visa options for obtaining legal status that allow for employment and the reasons these avenues do not meet the needs of in-home care workers.

#I924, Report, 35 pages

Community College Partnerships for Student and Career Success: Program Profile of Carreras en Salud
by Jane Henrici, Ph.D. (June 2012)

Postsecondary students with children often need an array of supports to succeed in their studies, which can require significant coordination among new and existing services (Conway, Blair, and Helmer 2012; Henrici n.d.; Miller, Gault, and Thorman 2011). Such supports might include financial aid, academic and career counseling, job placement assistance, transportation, housing, child care, and classes in English-as-a-Second Language. To more effectively provide an expanded range of student resources, community colleges often partner with local nonprofits, private businesses and foundations, and government institutions (Altstadt 2011; Bragg et al. 2007; Bray, Painter, and Rosen 2011; Conway, Blair, and Helmer 2012; Leutz 2007; Singh 2007; Wilson 2010). This fact sheet describes Carreras en Salud (“Careers in Health”), a career pathway program that scholars and advocates have elevated as a promising model for providing comprehensive supports through multiple partnerships with city colleges in Chicago.


New Families, New Friends: Organizations Working With Latina Immigrants, Strategy Forum Report
by Alesha Durfee, Ph.D. and Cynthia Hess, Ph.D. (March 2012)

This report summarizes the presentations from a strategy forum co-hosted by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) and Arizona State University (ASU) in April 2010. Held in Phoenix, Arizona, during the week the Arizona State Legislature passed the controversial legislation SB 1070, the forum brought together researchers, activists, clergy, and other community stakeholders working with immigrant women, especially Latinas.


Organizations Working with Latina Immigrants: Resources and Strategies for Change
by Cynthia Hess, Ph.D. Jane Henrici, Ph.D. and Claudia Williams (March 2011)

IWPR’s study explored the challenges many Latina immigrants face and the ways that nonprofit organizations and congregations strive to address them in three areas with rapidly growing immigrant populations: Atlanta, Georgia; Phoenix, Arizona; and Northern Virginia, a region within the Washington, District of Columbia (DC), metropolitan area.

#I922, report, 108 pages

Women and Immigration-Cynthia Hess
by Cynthia Hess (February 2011)


Figures Excerpted from IWPR’s Upcoming Report, Organizations Working with Latina Immigrants: Resources and Strategies for Change
by Cynthia Hess, Ph.D., Jane M. Henrici, Ph.D., Claudia Williams (February 2011)


Social and Economic Status of Latina Immigrants in Phoenix
by Frances Zlotnick (April 2010)

One in ten Arizona residents was born abroad and identifies as Latino or Latina. In Phoenix, this number is nearly one in eight. Nationally, Latino immigrant men slightly outnumber women (54 percent to 46 percent), but in Arizona and Phoenix, the proportions of men and women are approximately equal. Latino/a immigrants face a range of social and economic vulnerabilities that often disproportionately affect women.

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