New Poll Reveals Challenges and Successes of Immigrant Women in the U.S.

Immigrant Rights 05.14,09

A new poll surveying the views of immigrant women who were born in Latin American, Asian, African, and Arab countries highlights the barriers they face and the challenges they must overcome once settling in the United States.

The women who were surveyed said that the main reason they came to the U.S. was to join family members who were already here.  When asked to name the biggest challenge they faced as immigrant women in the U.S., “helping my children achieve success” and “being able to hold my family together” were the top answers – underscoring the importance of family to these women.

Although a majority of the women found a job within their first year in the U.S., the poll indicates that they faced substantial economic hardships during their first year.

However, these women also were able to experience upward economic movement.  Despite initially working for very low wages, they reported that the salary of their current job was more than double that of their first job after arriving in the United States.

In addition to economic barriers, language difficulties pose significant challenges. A clear majority of immigrant women from Latin America (79 percent), China (63 percent), Korea (70 percent) and Vietnam (73 percent) report that their ability to speak English is very limited. They also reported experiencing anti-immigration discrimination as well as a lack of healthcare.

The great majority of the women are married and more than 90 percent of those who are married live with their husbands. Once in the United States, the survey respondents report sharing more personal and financial decisionmaking responsibilities with their husbands than they did in their home country.

Read the poll (PDF)