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Bloggings on Immigration Law

by Danielle Beach-Oswald and Karen Smith

One Century Later, Still Much Work to be Done to Achieve Worldwide Equality of Women

International Womens Day was March 8, 2012. The holiday was first proposed by Clara Zetkin of Germany in 1910, during the Second International Conference of Working Women. The holiday was observed for the first time on March 19, 1911, in the countries of Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland. The date for the holiday was later changed to March 8, and it has been observed on this day ever since 1914. The holiday served as a platform for men and women to rally in support of womens suffrage, the right of women to hold public office, and the right of women to be treated equally in the workforce.

Today, International Womens Day is recognized as an official holiday in nearly thirty countries (the United States is unfortunately not included among this group). It has even captured the attention of the United Nations, which has held special International Womens Day conferences to celebrate the holiday. In keeping with its roots, this holiday brings together people from across the globe to celebrate the achievements of women and rally for the end of discrimination against women. Events are held online and at locations in many of the countries whose citizens celebrate the holiday. These events include campaigns to raise money to support women, film screenings of documentaries about womens rights activists, and programs that give training to aspiring female entrepreneurs.

The employees at Beach-Oswald see firsthand the progress in womens equality, and recognize that there is still much to do to achieve full and fair participation of women in all parts of society. As immigration attorneys, we regularly work with female clients who are victims of forced marriage and female genital mutilation, and assist them with their asylum, VAWA, or U visa applications. We enjoy learning about our clients backgrounds and helping them obtain better lives in the United States.

Child marriage, or forced marriage, is commonly practiced in Africa and Asia. It exists in poor, rural communities because families cannot afford to care for young girls and parents choose to marry their daughters off at an early age so they will not continue to be financial burdens. Female victims of forced marriage continue the cycle of poverty, as they do not obtain educations since they are pulled out of school to be married, and they are expected to raise children and do housework rather than participate in the workforce.

The World Health Organization estimates that around 92 million girls, ages 10 and above, have been subjected to female genital mutilation, a procedure that involves the cutting, removal, and stitching back together of a young womans reproductive organs. The practice holds no health benefits for women and is not medically necessary, but it is a cultural practice that is observed in many parts of the world because it supposedly denotes a womans purity. Female genital mutilation may result in death or serious medical problems, including complications during childbirth.

Activists are working to put an end to forced marriage and female genital mutilation. The International Center for Research on Women has programs in communities in Nepal and India that educate people on the negative consequences of child marriage and find ways to delay marriage for girls. The World Health Organization works with international monitoring bodies to condemn female genital mutilation, and pushes for the enactment of laws in African countries that prohibit the practice.

We hope that this article will raise awareness of forced marriage and female genital mutilation, and motivate more people to advocate for the end of these dangerous, discriminatory practices. The more voices there are speaking out against these practices, the more pressure governments will feel to make positive change.


Immigrants Face Red Tape in Obtaining Visas


Chinese Couple

Photo Credit: The Republican | Michael S. Gordon

By: Danielle Beach-Oswald and Karen Smith*

Immigrants who wish to obtain visas for the first time, renew their visas, or change their immigration statuses often face difficulties in dealing with the United States immigration system. The Immigration Policy Center attributes the problems in part to the current structure of the system. It gives the example of employment based visas and argues that the cap on the amount of visas that may be allocated each year, as well as the inability of a temporary worker to change his or her status and obtain permanent employment visas, does not give employers the flexibility they need to hire immigrants to fill in openings in the United States labor market. The Centers report also cited backlogs in processing and rigid bureaucratic procedure as another problem.

Baijun Li, and his wife, Xi Wang, serve as real examples of how these problems impact lawful immigrants. The Chinese couple came to the United States on temporary visas twelve years ago, and their story was recently documented in the news. They attempted to get their green cards so they could stay in the United States permanently, but their applications were denied. Bajijun Li was laid off from his job and was unable to qualify for a green card because he did not have a permanent job offer in the United States. USCIS did not believe that Xi Wang, a famous professional dancer in China, possessed the extraordinary ability that would qualify her for a green card under the Immigration and Nationality Act.  They have appealed the decision on Xi Wangs application, but even if it is approved, they will have to go through a long waiting period before their green cards are issued.

Baijun Li has an advanced degree in chemistry and has used his knowledge in his work with manufacturing plants, but this was ignored when his application for a green card was under consideration. Similarly, USCIS rejected the contribution that Xi Wang could make to the arts in the United States with her dancing talents when it denied her application. The couple said that it seemed unfair that a person whom they did not even know had the authority to decide their future. They also said they disliked having to spend hours filling out paperwork and listening to automated recordings on the phone, rather than being able to work with a real person to get their applications processed.

Since their temporary visas will expire soon, Baijun Li and Xi Wang may be forced to return to China even though they have spent a considerable part of their lives in the United States and their daughter was born in the United States. If immigration policy consistently allowed transition between temporary work visas and permanent employment visas, they would be able to stay in the United States, assuming that at least one of them received a job offer. Instead, current policy prohibits most temporary worker visa holders from transitioning to permanent visas. Due to the high demand for visas and limited resources, applications are often approved or denied without any communication between applicants and the officials in charge of their applications, and applicants have to endure long waiting times while their applications are being processed, as this couples story illustrates.

It is the hope of the employees at Beach-Oswald that stories like Baijun Li and Xi Wangs will make more people aware that reform of our immigration system is needed. We feel that every immigrants background and unique abilities should be considered when they apply for immigration relief.


About The Author

Danielle Beach-Oswald is the current President and Managing Partner of Beach-Oswald Immigration Law Associates in Washington, DC. Ms. Beach utilizes her 19 years of experience in immigration law to help individuals immigrate to the United States for humanitarian reasons. Born in Brussels, Belgium, Ms. Beach has lived in England, Belgium, Italy and Ivory Coast and has traveled extensively to many countries. Ms. Beach advocates for clients from around the world who seek freedom from torture in their country, or who are victims of domestic violence and trafficking. She has also represented her clients at U.S. Consulates in Romania, China, Canada, Mexico, and several African countries. With her extensive experience in family-based and employment-based immigration law Ms. Beach not only assists her clients in obtaining a better standard of living in the United States, she also helps employers obtain professional visas, and petitions for family members. She also handles many complex naturalization issues. Ms. Beach has unique expertise representing clients in immigration matters pending before the Federal District Courts, Circuit Courts, Board of Immigration Appeals and Immigration Courts. She has won over 400 humanitarian cases in the United States. Her firm's website is

Karen Smith is a legal intern at Beach-Oswald Immigration Law Associates and a third year student at American University Washington College of Law.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.