Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono: Immigration bill ‘disadvantages women’

June 19, 2013

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) has a problem with the Senate's sweeping immigration overhaul proposal: it "disadvantages women."

In a conversation with The Washington Post's Brook Silva-Braga on The Fold, the freshman senator decried the bill for moving immigration policy to a two-tiered system that reduces people to points. Awarding foreigners for their level of education or work experience "institutionalizes and sets in concrete the unequal opportunities that women have in these countries," she said.

In response, Hirono has pledged to work with female senators to propose a third tier to facilitate immigration for men and women with different job experiences. For Hirono, the fight is personal. She fled Japan in 1955 with her mother and brother to escape her alcoholic father.

In the past, Hirono said that immigration laws used "family unity as a guiding principle."

"The thing about immigrants is the people who come to this country with that kind of drive? They are risk-takers," she said. "And we need risk-takers who want to improve their lives, create jobs and do those things that add to the dynamism of our economy."

Ruth Tam is a writer based in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter: @ruthetam.
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