The study of immigration from the perspective of gender is relatively recent. In 2003, two anthropology and sociology researchers published a study commissioned by the Migration Policy Institute, a prominent American think tank, pointing out that most immigration research conducted in the 19th and 20th centuries was largely focused on the male perspective, and it mostly referred to men as heads of household or breadwinners who sent remittances to their families back home.
Historically Male-Centered Perspective on Immigration
In the United States, research papers taken into account by policymakers until the 1970s mentioned migrants mostly in terms of patriarchy. This was understood to be in reference to men who decided to become immigrants for the purpose of seeking better lives for their families. The few studies that focused on the female immigration experience were related to women who arrived on the K-1 fiancée visa. It wasn’t until the American feminist movement demanded greater inclusion of gender-specific studies that we started seeing reports about the lives of migrant women.
Until recently, there was a general expectation about men migrating to the US in search of economic opportunity. Their female partners stayed in their countries of origin to care for children and elderly relatives thanks to remittances. If male migrants were eligible to receive immigration benefits such as legal residency and naturalization, female partners and children would have their turns to migrate. There are a couple of socioeconomic realities that often unfolded when this happened:
* Women were still subject to stratification, as they were in their countries of origin. This meant they continued to care for children while their partners earned the families’ keep.
* Women were forced to become part of the workforce because the cost of living was now higher and remittances were no longer sufficient.
Female-Focused Changes in Immigration Policy
Immigration policy has been adjusted based on the two situations above. For example, if a woman must put an end to an abusive marriage before she has received her green card, there’s a way to petition for a waiver so her life isn’t upended by a traumatic return home. Women in these types of situations should retain the services of trustworthy legal professionals such as immigration attorneys in San Diego, CA, to anticipate and deal with any potential issues.
A new dynamic that relates to gender migration has been observed at the southern border in recent years. Thousands of women with young children are trekking over land from their homes in Central America. Many of them have lost their partners to violence created by the “War on Drugs” or their own partners don’t wish to abandon their criminal lives. For all practical purposes, these women are single parents and heads of household seeking asylum, and their socioeconomic status upon arrival will be as public charges in the American welfare system. For this reason, legislative and rule changes are being discussed so these migrants aren’t denied immigration benefits because the government had to help them at some point in their downtrodden lives.
Gender is a crucial part of any discussion about the causes and consequences of immigration. If you have questions about any aspect of immigration, contact trusted attorneys who have vast experience with immigration services. In San Diego, KS Visa Law is the firm to turn to when you need advice about immigration law and how it affects you and your family. Call us today at 858-874-0711 to schedule an appointment.