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Crossing Borders


Pictured from left: (front) Marjorie Lightman, Bonnie Weinstein, Kimala Price, (back) Anne Stone, Ronald Cluett, Jeffrey Heller, William Zeisel


In 2001, WREI assembled a multidisciplinary working group to examine immigration from a variety of perspectives in different historical periods and places with support from the Rockefeller Foundation. This two-year project, Crossing Borders, culminated in a six-part examination of the changing nature of citizenship, released on May 13 at a Capitol Hill seminar. The report, entitled Crossing Borders: A Report of the Working Group on Women & Immigration, is available for download (PDF).

The Crossing Borders report takes a unique look at United States immigration from a holistic perspective that makes clear the need to rethink our most fundamental assumptions about immigration, law, policies, and practices. The report integrates issues of gender and citizenship with the evolution of institutional structures. In a diverse group of essays, the six authors argue that we are approaching a breakdown of administrative processes, despite the shift of the old INS to the new Department of Homeland Security.

Initially, the Crossing Borders working group intended to focus on immigration and women--especially on issues of citizenship and refugee status. Shortly into the process, it became increasingly evident that females dominate many of the legal and illegal categories of immigration. Contrary to media representations of boatloads of men from Cuba or young male migrants from Mexico, women-not men-constitute the greater number of illegal immigrants and are 53% of the overall legal immigrants. In addition, women and children are the overwhelming majority of the world's refugees. In a sense, the group's first finding was that immigration is a woman's issue.

The working group subsequently enlarged its focus to fundamental issues that shape our current immigration laws, policies, and practices, while maintaining a special focus on women. The goal has been to suggest ways to move into the future from an analysis of the past and present. In the findings presented at the spring colloquium, the group integrated the historical with the contemporary to focus on significant issues that have implications to alter the public discussion of immigration and national policy over the next years.

Crossing Borders is headed by Marjorie Lightman, Ph.D., a senior fellow at WREI, who also chairs the Taskforce on Migration and Immigration for the National Council of Women's Organizations.

Other members of the group include:

  • Allida Black, Ph.D., project director and editor, The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project, George Washington University
  • Ronald Cluett, Ph.D., Department of Classics and History, Pomona College, California
  • William J. Hynes, Ph.D., President, St. Norbert College, De Pere, Wisconsin
  • Kimala Price, Ph.D., Ibis Reproductive Health, Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Bonnie Weinstein, Esq., Director, Strategic Development Group, Washington, DC
  • Jeffrey Heller, Esq., immigration specialist, New York and New Jersey
  • William Zeisel, Ph.D., of QED Associates, acts as secretary for the group.