Unfinished Business

Civil Rights News: Some Marine Combat Jobs Still Closed to Women; A Better Immigration Plan; Violence Against Women Act Reintroduced

Compiled by Emily Van Dusen, a Spring 2013 intern at The Leadership Conference Education Fund

Some Marine combat jobs may remain closed to women

By Jim Michaels
USA Today

With women recently being allowed to undertake combat roles in the army, the Marines are working to ensure that tests of their standards can be performed by men and women. No changes in the standards themselves will be made, but quantifying them for both sexes could be a long enough process to prevent women from entering certain fields for the near future. According to USA Today, the difficulty in quantifying standards does not come from a desire to resist the Pentagon order. As their source, General James Amos, states: “This isn’t a subtle way of saying, ‘OK, we’re going to have standards and so we’re going to exclude our women.’ It’s actually just the opposite.”

A Better Immigration Plan
New York Times

In his Las Vegas speech this week, President Obama offered definitive principles and objectives for immigration reform, following news of a bipartisan plan taking shape in the Senate. According to The New York Times:

 “The president restated the familiar and still-sound principles behind an immigration overhaul: a more secure border and workplace; legalization for 11 million undocumented immigrants; and a modernized system of legal immigration that eliminates backlogs, reunites families and has enough visas for valued workers and entrepreneurs.”

While similar to the Senate plan, Obama focused on a pathway to citizenship as a main principle without tying it to increased border security, offering a promising commitment to undocumented workers who need reform today. The president called for the end of damaging “us vs. them” rhetoric, and stressed the urgency of reform by stating that a White House bill will be proposed if Congress does not act swiftly. The encouraging willingness in government to take on immigration reform should continue to take shape in the coming weeks.

A New Push On Domestic Violence
New York Times

With focus quickly pivoting to gun violence and immigration reform, the Senate needs to act soon to pass the new version of the Violence Against Women Act. The bill, reintroduced by Senators Leahy (D. Vt.) and Crapo (R. Id.), “would provide services, like shelters and legal help, for victims of abuse regardless of their sexual orientation or immigration status,” according to The New York Times. Not included in the new version is the original bill’s increase in U-visas, which are available to undocumented immigrants who are victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.