POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jun 19, 2013
U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono says a sweeping immigration bill being considered by the Senate is unfair to women because of educational and career inequities in other countries.
The Democrat said on the Senate floor Tuesday that a new merit-based point system to evaluate potential immigrants would bring inequitable treatment abroad into the United States.
"This bill basically moves us away from the family-based system and into economic considerations," Hirono said. "Nothing wrong with that, but we should be fair to women while we're doing it."
She says the bill also reduces opportunities for family members of those already in the U.S. to immigrate using green cards.
A Congressional Budget Office analysis said Tuesday that about 8 million people in the U.S. illegally would gain legal status under the Senate bill. There are an estimated 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally.
"We all want a stronger economy, but we should not sacrifice the hard-won victories of the women's equality movement to get it," Hirono said. "Ensuring that women have an equal opportunity to come here isn't an abstract policy cause to me."
Hirono, the first woman born in Asia to serve in the U.S. Senate, was born in Fukushima, Japan, and moved to Hawaii with her mother in 1955. She easily won election in November after moving from the U.S. House.
Hirono said she plans to work with other women in the Senate to introduce an amendment to make the bill more favorable to women.
The CBO analysis said the bill would lower the deficit in each of the next two decades. Deficits would fall by $197 billion across a decade, and by $700 billion in the following 10 years, if the bill were to become law, the CBO said.