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Reshma Shamasunder's picture

I am writing this as I pack my suitcase and laptop bag to go to Sacramento for the 15th annual Immigrant Day at the Capitol.  Buzzing around me are my three daughters, ages 8, 5 and 1.  They ask questions ranging from the mundane to the profound.

As I look at them, its clear to me why I am heading to the Capitol.  Like any mom, I want to do everything I can to ensure their successful future as well as broaden the horizons for millions of young girls like them.

Fifteen years ago, long before my girls were born, immigrants from nearly every culture and community gathered for the first day at the Capitol.  The goal was simple, to elevate a voice that had been silent for too long and to put a recognizable face on the California immigrant experience.

Today, there is a new face of the California immigrant, and it’s a woman’s face.  In recent years, the number of women migrating to California has increased significantly. Our work at the Capitol this week will reflect this new reality.

Among our top concerns are issues of family unity, protections for domestic workers and support for victims of domestic violence.   These are critical issues in every family, but in immigrant families they take on even greater importance.

Moms are the glue of families in every culture.  In California, whether a mom is from Latin America, Asia or Eastern Europe, the idea of separation is unthinkable.  That’s why as part of our efforts, we will work on legislation that protects the family and supports efforts to keep them whole instead of fracturing them through deportation.

We will also be working to increase protections for domestic workers.  Domestic workers provide support for working families and our aging population. However, these workers are too often mothers with children who have no legal protections in the workplace.  That leaves them and their children open to financial and occupational hazards.

Finally, we are working on ways to support immigrant victims of domestic violence. Just last month, the LA Times reported on a mom with a young child who was afraid to dial 9-1-1 while being beaten by her partner.  Her fears were realized when she finally did call for help…and then the deportations proceedings began.  We must not force our moms to choose between safety and security.

We are one California representing many peoples.  As I head to the Capitol, I will hug my girls knowing that I’m carrying on a legacy that began fifteen years ago and one that I know will help us to create a stronger California for all of us.

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