Nina Rabin, director of border research at the Southwest Institute for Research on Women, has been invited this month to participate in a U.S. Congressional briefing to be held in Washington, D.C.
Rabin, who also co-directs The University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law's immigration clinic, will be speaking during the June 24 briefing alongside a former detainee, a former health care provider of a U.S. immigration detention center and representatives from the Women's Refugee Commission and Human Rights Watch.
The briefing, "The Impact of Immigration Enforcement on Women and Families," is sponsored by several non-governmental organizations and held in cooperation with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.
"This is pretty big," said Sally Stevens, director of the UA institute, also known as SIROW. Stevens said SIROW researchers are generally called to speak on the local and regional level, but no one in recent history had been called to speak at the federal level.
The briefing is directed at members of Congress and meant to provide information about immigration issues on the cusp of what may amount to a national-level discussion about comprehensive immigration reform.
Of note, one bill – the Immigration Oversight and Fairness Act of 2009 – has been proposed to enforce "fair and humane treatment" of immigrant detainees.
During the briefing, Rabin will be presenting findings from "Unseen Prisoners: A Report on Women in Immigration Detention Facilities in Arizona," SIROW and the UA law college's Bacon Immigration Law and Policy Program released earlier this year.
The Women's Refugee Commission invited Rabin to speak during the briefing. Rabin had been in contact with members of Human Rights Watch for several months to discuss ways to get both her report and the organization's report on medical care services for women in immigration detention systems into the hands of policy makers.
Rabin's report culminated one year of research on detention facilities in the state of Arizona, focusing on the treatment of immigrant women – an ever-growing population of detainees.
During a one-year period, Rabin and her research team interviewed more than 40 detainees and their families, attorneys and service providers.
The report details ways in which immigrant women lack adequate attention and care and also provides recommendations at the local, state and federal levels.
Rabin will focus on findings that indicate women were not receiving adequate health care and most were separated from at least one child who was a U.S. citizen and under the age of 10. She will also speak about the prevalence of domestic violence and sexual assault survivors in the detention centers.
"Immigration detention is a key issue because even people working on immigration issues aren't always completely aware of it," Rabin said, adding that she and others will follow up with members of Congress after the briefing.
"So much of the solution to the detention problem has to come from Congress," she added.