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U.S. Helsinki Commission Calls for Greater Attention to the Plight of Migrant Women

WASHINGTON– Earlier today, Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) held a hearing with Helsinki Commissioner Congresswoman Hilda L. Solis (D-CA), entitled “Crossing Borders, Keeping Connected: Women, Migration and Development in the OSCE Region.” The hearing focused on the impact of women migrants on family and society and the economic contributions to their home countries through remittances. Participating in the hearing was Commissioner Congressman Mike McIntyre (D-NC) and Congresswomen Gwen Moore (D-WI), Doris Matsui (D-CA), Lois Capps (D-CA), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), and Diane Watson (D-CA). All the Members agreed that Congress must do more to shed light on the challenges as well as the benefits of women migrants.

Expert testimony was received from Dr. Susan Martin, Director of the Institute for Study of International Migration at Georgetown University and Dr. Manuel Orozco with the Remittances and Development program at Inter-American Dialogue.

Chairman Hastings noted during the hearing, “The plight of women migrants is a hometown issue for most of us. In my home state of Florida, we have some of the highest concentrations of farm workers. More than one-quarter of all farm workers in the United States are women, yet their salaries are only two-thirds that of their male counterparts even while they are exposed to some of the most dangerous working conditions and are regularly subjected to sexual harassment, assault, and rape.”

Congresswoman Solis, who is also Special Representative on Migration of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly stressed that, “Migrant workers provide critical funds for family members in their home country through remittances. The social remittances of migrant women, such as ideas, skills, and attitudes, can also boost socio-economic development and promote human rights and gender equality. Financial remittances could have an even greater role in poverty reduction and development if women did not face wage, employment, credit and property discrimination.”

On May 9, Congresswoman Solis will chair a hearing in her district entitled, “Los Angeles: The Regional Impacts and Opportunities of Migration.” The hearing will focus on the transitional experiences and accomplishments of migrant communities in Los Angeles. In particular, it will examine Los Angeles as a case study within the international context of global migration. Chairman Hastings and other members of Congress will join Congresswoman Solis at the hearing in Los Angeles.

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