Why Women are Central to the Immigration Story

Celebrated stories of early American pioneers, explorers, and immigrants typically center around men of fortitude and bravery. Depictions of modern-day migrants are still very male-centric, and this cultural lens is a default in most cases. But women play a central and overlooked role in today's immigration story. Even when not directly highlighted, women often bear the weight of keeping families together and helping them grow stronger.


New America Media has just released the results of a poll titled “Women Immigrants: Stewards of the 21st Century.” NAM surveyed 1,002 female immigrants from Latin American, Asian, African, and Arab countries. According to Sandy Close and Richard Rodriguez, "The story that has not been told is the story of the woman immigrant. This poll is an effort to capture her narrative, and what becomes clear in the responses–many to questions that seemed on their face to have nothing to do with family per se–is that the gold thread giving meaning to her life is family stewardship."

The poll reveals that the typical model of migration, in which the man left to find work and send home money, has changed. Women are assuming head of the household duties, even if in their prior situation they were in less of a leadership role. The women interviewed for the poll named "securing family stability" as the most important motivator for seeking U.S. citizenship.

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