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Women lacking legal documentation face immigration discrimination

According to the women who have shared their stories -- as well as those social workers who help them -- women without the proper legal documentation in the United States have many obstacles to contend with once they are here. Many feel that they face more immigration discrimination than their male counterparts. The phenomenon is not limited to any one geographical location, with women reporting problems in North Carolina as well as in many other states.

While the most recent media fascination has focused on the thousands of unaccompanied minors who have been entering the country, there has been little mention made of the women and expectant mothers who are also seeking to flee the violence and poverty in their native countries. Once here, many of these women are denied the opportunity to obtain employment that will allow them to provide adequately for their families. They encounter difficulty with meeting many of their most basic needs, while simultaneously being accused of taking advantage of social benefits programs and stealing American jobs.

In reality, food stamps and other programs are denied to applicants who have been here less than five years. As for taking jobs away, the majority of these women fill the positions that are most likely to underpay and many expose the workers to abusive situations. They also work several jobs in an effort to provide for their children, since many of the upper-level positions will not hire an undocumented worker regardless of their qualifications.

One woman lamented the fact that she could not attend many of her child's school functions since she would have been denied permission due to her undocumented status. Agencies who assist these women are calling for reforms in order to help improve their lives. There may be many living in North Carolina who are also facing immigration discrimination and desire to change their status. There are resources that can help provide the guidance they may be seeking while also explaining their rights while they are residing here.

Source:, "Undocumented Mothers in the US Are Often Vulnerable, Ignored and Misunderstood", Erika L. Sanchez, Aug. 15, 2014

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