Support the HEAL Immigrant Women and Families Act!

This article was originally published by the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

Lauren Paulk is the Law Students for Reproductive Justice Fellow at the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

Though the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will go a long way toward ensuring access to quality healthcare for most LGBT individuals, many LGBT immigrants are still prohibited from obtaining the affordable health care they need. Despite being authorized to live and work in the United States, many immigrants—including LGBT immigrants—are ineligible for affordable health coverage and care through vital programs like Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Many immigrants are subject to a ban that makes them ineligible for federal Medicaid and CHIP for at least the first five years they are authorized to live and work in the United States, and other lawfully present immigrants who do not fall into an outdated and restrictive list of “qualified” immigrants are barred altogether. Since immigrants—particularly LGBT immigrants—are disproportionately low-income, it can be difficult or impossible to obtain the health care they need. That means five years without insurance coverage for critical and life-saving services, including pap smears, mammograms, HIV treatment, mental health care, or pediatric care for children.

Young people granted status through “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA) are forced to wait even longer. DACA refers to a program enacted in 2012 that allows undocumented people ages 15-30 who arrived in the US as children (and who are currently in school or working) to remain here for renewable two-year periods. While they are considered lawfully present and are eligible to work and pay into public health benefits systems, they are prevented from accessing affordable care. Currently, people with DACA status are ineligible for federal Medicaid or CHIP coverage and the years they live in the United States with DACA status will not count toward the five years of lawful presence required before they become eligible. To add insult to injury, these young people are even ineligible to purchase private health insurance on the ACA exchange—with or without federal subsidies.

Many LGBT immigrants come to the US after fleeing interpersonal and state abuse based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. However, once they arrive, LGBT immigrants face a number of challenges to obtaining affordable and culturally competent health care. While the ACA will continue to combat the discrimination LGBT people face in the health care system due to lack of cultural competency, all of its positive effects are out of reach for LGBT immigrants because of gaps in coverage. The existing barriers to affordable health care disenfranchise hard-working LGBT immigrants who come to the United States to have a better life, only to encounter difficulty getting the care they need. Moreover, because LGBT immigrants are much less likely than non-immigrants to be able to access health care through their jobs, they are putting work into a system that does not support them.

However, new legislation introduced by Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham would change these realities for good. The Health Equity and Access under the Law for Immigrant Women and Families Act of 2014 (“HEAL Immigrant Women and Families Act” for short) restores access to Medicaid and CHIP for immigrants authorized to live and work in the United States who are otherwise eligible. The bill also extends full participation in the ACA to young people granted status under DACA.

The HEAL Immigrant Women and Families Act is especially important for families. LGBT families are more likely to live in poverty than non-LGBT families, meaning health care on the private market is often out of reach. We know that LGBT people deserve the same access to health care as non-LGBT people, and this should include LGBT immigrants. The HEAL Immigrant Women and Families Act would bridge the gaps in the ACA, Medicaid, and CHIP by extending needed care options to immigrants, and in so doing, strengthen our workplace, our economy, and our communities. NCLR applauds Congresswoman Lujan Grisham for introducing the HEAL Immigrant Women and Families Act, and we encourage other members of Congress who support the LGBT community to stand beside her in expanding the health care options for many LGBT immigrants. Please show your support for the HEAL Immigrant Women and Families Act by signing this pledge, put together by the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. Please check out @NLIRH’s twitter timeline for more information on how this important bill will impact our communities!

18.7 percent is not enough

Deodonne Bhattarai, Resident Blogger (’12, Northeastern University School of Law)

This month marks the start of the second session of the 113th Congress — the most diverse Congress in U.S. history.   My own home state of New Hampshire played a big role in this distinction having sent the only ever all female delegation to Washington, D.C.  Hawaii is a close second, having sent three women as part of its four-member delegation. However, with eighty-one House members and twenty Senators, women still account for only 18.7% of Congressional members.[1]

Despite their comparatively low numbers, women have increasingly gained recognition for their leadership on a variety of issues.  Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Susan Collins (R-ME), Kelley Ayotte (R-NH) and others garnered attention for their role in last year’s budget negotiations and are largely credited for saving our country from the dreaded fiscal cliff.  Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) became the voice for family unity and women’s equality during the immigration debate introducing a number of amendments including one to allocate 30,000 residency cards for traditionally female employment, employment that goes largely unrecognized in our current system.

The Shaheen amendment, passed late in 2012, and named for Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), ended the decades long ban on insurance coverage for abortion services for military rape survivors. The attention to sexual violence in the military has only grown over the past year thanks to the efforts of Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO).  Although not always in agreement – only eighteen of the twenty female Senators are pro-choice – the women serving in Congress are a force in their own right.  A recent study found that regardless of their party, women are “thirty-one percent more effective than men at advancing legislation.”

As we embark on the second session of this historic Congress, it is tempered by the fact that half of all states have never elected a woman to the Senate and in the words of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), “Imagine what they could do if there were 50 of them.”



[1] https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42964.pdf

Gloria Steinem Knows Immigration Reform is a Woman’s Issue.

Christine Poquiz, Resident Blogger (’12, University of California, Davis School of Law)

It was a little surreal meeting Gloria Steinem, someone I’ve read and heard about and idolized my entire life. Even though she denies it, she IS a feminist icon.

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Christine Poquiz [far right] with Gloria Steinem and NAPAWF staff

So it was definitely a fangirl moment hearing her talk about immigration reform at the National Press Club where, in 1972, she became its first female speaker. While Steinem was in Washington, D.C. to receive her Presidential Medal of Freedom,  she took the time to also speak at a We Belong Together event about the importance of comprehensive immigration reform as a feminist issue.

Joined by Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and activists sharing their personal stories, Steinem spoke up on why immigration is a critical feminist issue.  “The truth of the matter is, there is an unrealistic portrayal of who immigrants really are. 75 percent of all immigrants are women and children, while 51 percent of all undocumented workers are women… Throughout history, women were the ones who moved. We moved into husbands’ family homes, we moved for a better life, we moved for our children.” She noted that if we traced those paths of women moving, it would look like “lace across our globe,” and that we are all connected by that “lace.”

As a Reproductive Justice Fellow at the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), I’ve been working on comprehensive immigration reform policy for the past year.  People often ask me “how is immigration connected to reproductive justice?” To me, immigration is so clearly entrenched in reproductive justice that it’s hard for me to understand why people can’t see it. As Steinem mentioned, over 51% of immigrants are women. Our current immigration policies cater to men, devalue women’s work, deny women healthcare and basic labor protections, and separate families. Because of deportation fears, undocumented women are reluctant to report domestic abuse and other crimes against them.

One of the campaigns NAPAWF leads, in partnership with the National Domestic Worker’s Alliance, is the We Belong Together campaign (WBT). WBT highlights the struggles immigrant women face and is uplifting women’s voices and addressing what women need in immigration reform. WBT has also helped mobilize allies in the women’s movement who don’t traditionally focus on immigration, like Moms Rising and the National Council for Jewish Women. WBT momentum has been escalating the past year – from advocacy Hill visits to Senate hearings for immigrant women to mass civil disobediences in front of Congress. The Gloria event last week is a perfect illustration of how WBT brings together unexpected allies.

Senator Hirono, who has been our strongest advocate for women in immigration reform, spoke about her own personal experiences as an Asian woman, and her continuing struggle to speak out and push back against gendered expectations that make us uncomfortable with calling attention to ourselves. Everyday she tells herself, “I’m going to say something!” (I will explore this further in another blog post). During this critical debate on immigration reform, women have been stepping up and speaking out, and we need to continue to do so and urge our sisters to do so. Immigration is a woman’s issue. 

While, with just 10 legislative days left in the year, immigration reform seems a little beyond our grasp, these amazing women fueled my motivation, and the motivation of the hundreds of people watching, to get our broken immigration system fixed and make sure women aren’t left out.

 

For Immigrant Women, Health Care Remains Out of Reach

This article was published by The National Women’s Health Network.

Candace Gibson is the Law Students for Reproductive Justice Second Year Fellow at National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, a Steering Committee Member of the National Coalition for Immigrant Women’s Rights.

Early this year, I heard Sophia’s story, and it has stuck with me ever since. Sophia is an undocumented Latina immigrant living in Texas. Because of her immigration status, she is locked out of our health care system. Neither her nor her husband’s employer offers health insurance and, although Sophia’s family would qualify for Medicaid coverage on the basis of income, they are barred from participating in the program because they are undocumented. They are too afraid to enroll their children, who are U.S. citizens. While a handful of Texas clinics serve undocumented women’s health needs, none are easy to get to, and even the sliding scale fees are beyond Sophia’s reach.

A few years ago, Sophia experienced a painful gynecological problem and needed care. Without options, however, she suffered without care until she finally became desperate. Eventually, she was forced to cross the border into Mexico to seek care there; pay a coyote to bring her back into the U.S. by swimming across the Rio Grande; and risk the dangers of sexual assault, violence, and deportation.

Because immigrant women often live in the shadows, it is hard to know how many share Sophia’s story — but we do know that millions of immigrant women share her circumstances. As Congress debates immigration reform, many women’s health advocates and immigrants are watching closely to see how reform efforts might address this population’s barriers to accessing health care. Unfortunately, the proposals currently under consideration in the U.S. House and Senate perpetuate — and even exacerbate — these barriers, making stories like Sophia’s the heartbreaking status quo of immigrant women in the United States.

A Troubling History

Immigrants have long faced restrictions in accessing health insurance and services, but a proliferation of policies in the last few decades have made access even harder. In 1996, Congress passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA, more commonly known as “welfare reform”). PRWORA instituted a mandatory five-year delay for lawfully present immigrant women who qualify for Medicaid to get covered. So, an immigrant woman with legal permanent resident (LPR) status has to wait for five years before she can get Medicaid coverage.

The 2009 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA, also called “Obamacare”) explicitly left immigrant families out of the expansion of health care access for millions of Americans. Under the ACA, undocumented women cannot receive subsidies or tax credits to participate in the Health Insurance Marketplaces, and they are barred from buying plans at full price (although it is not likely many could afford to do so).i This restriction undermines the ACA’s spirit, which was to ensure access to quality, affordable health care for all uninsured people in this country.

One of the few ways an immigrant woman can get limited health care, for a limited amount of time, is if her state is one of the few that has opted to use its own funds to provide Medicaid coverage for pregnant, immigrant, low-income women. In 15 states all immigrant women qualify for coverage, regardless of their immigration status; in another 20 states, only LPR women are eligible.ii A major problem with this policy is that the health coverage is limited to care directly related to the pregnancy, so a woman with an unrelated health condition (like a broken bone) cannot get care for that condition.

Immigration Reform Debate Leaves Health Care Behind

Earlier this year, and after months of intense negotiation, the U.S. Senate passed a historic comprehensive immigration reform bill. The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (S. 744) provides a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented people and addresses several of the immigrant communities’ key concerns. Yet, the bill also includes severe restrictions on health coverage for the very immigrant families it seeks to bring out of the shadows. S. 744 adds to PRWORA’s terrible legacy by withholding health care for people on the pathway to citizenship for up to 15 years.iii  The law requires aspiring citizens to pay taxes, fees, and penalties; take English classes, which are hard to find in many communities; demonstrate regular employment, which is challenging in this economy; as well as other requirements. During this 15-year timeframe, they are excluded from affordable health care.iv

We should note that several lawmakers championed immigrant women’s health and well-being during the Senate debate, including Senators Hirono (D-HI), Boxer (D-CA), Leahy (D-VT), and Murray (D-WA). Senator Hirono introduced the “Taxpayer Fairness” amendment (ultimately withdrawn), which would have prevented any immigrant woman who fulfilled her tax obligations from being barred from Federal programs, including health programs, based on her immigration status.v

Under the Senate bill, immigrant women on the path to citizenship would be denied access to Medicaid services for 15 years (or longer if their change in status is delayed), which could be the difference between life and death for a woman with breast or cervical cancer. For many immigrant women, getting — and staying — on this path to citizenship will be a daunting challenge. Many will not be able to achieve it. Meanwhile, their health and that of their families will be in jeopardy.

The Fight Isn’t Over Yet

The current national conversation about immigration reform largely fails to recognize the contributions that immigrant women make to their families, communities, and our nation’s economy, or the vital need for them to be able to access health care. The good news is that there is a crucial window of opportunity to influence the nation’s discourse and policies on immigration reform. As the House of Representatives considers several proposals for immigration reform, it is critical that policymakers hear from women (immigrant and citizen alike) who believe that access to health care is a human right and should not be restricted simply because of a person’s birthplace.

If you believe that immigrant women are the backbone of their families and their communities, please stand with the National Coalition for Immigrant Women’s Rights’ efforts to ensure they get the health care they need. Join our Congressional postcard campaign, “I’m Fighting #4immigrantwomen,” athttp://nciwr.org/campaigns/im_fighting_for. Learn more about how you can support immigrant women’s health and rights, by following us online (www.nciwr.org) or on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/NCIWR). After all, would you want your mother or sister to wait 15 years to see their doctor?


i. National Immigration Law Center Website. “Immigrants and the Affordable Care Act (ACA).” Los Angeles, CA: National Immigration Law Center. March 2013. Retrieved September 15, 2013 fromhttp://nilc.org/immigrantshcr.html.

ii. Hassedt K. “Toward Equity and Access: Removing Legal Barriers to Health Insurance     Coverage for Immigrants.” Guttmacher Policy Review Winter 2013; 16:2-8. Retrieved October   1, 2013 fromhttp://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/gpr/16/1/gpr160102.html.

iii.  National Immigration Law Center Website. “The Senate Immigration Reform Bill (S.744) What’s Good, What’s Bad.” Los Angeles, CA: National Immigration Law Center. July 11, 2013. Retrieved September 15, 2013 from http://nilc.org/s744goodbadtable.html.

iv.  National Immigration Law Center Website. “The Senate Immigration Reform Bill (S.744) What’s Good, What’s Bad.” Los Angeles, CA: National Immigration Law Center. July 11, 2013. Retrieved September 15, 2013 from http://nilc.org/s744goodbadtable.html.

v.  Sen. Mazie Hirono, Press Release: Hirono Introduces Amendment to Immigration Bill to Fix Provisions that Unfairly Penalize Immigrant Taxpayers, Washington, D.C.: US Senate, June 18, 2013. Available online at: http://www.hirono.senate.gov/press-releases/hirono-introduces-amendment-… last visited September 15, 2013.

An Anniversary Date that Should Go Away: The Hyde Amendment

Candace Gibson, Resident Blogger (’12, University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law)

I first learned about the Hyde Amendment as an undergraduate student and then tinkered with it academically as a law student.  I began to wonder if the Hyde Amendment could be argued as a violation of international human rights law, but that’s for another blog post.   I understood Hyde as a step in the wrong direction for access to abortion care in this country but didn’t really grasp its human impact until I became a LSRJ Fellow at National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health.

The Hyde Amendment is approved each year by politicians in Congress as part of the annual budget process contrary to the popular belief that it is settled law.  This provision in the budget is a total ban on insurance coverage of abortion care for women who qualify and enroll in Medicaid with the exceptions of life endangerment, rape, and incest.   Unfortunately, Hyde has played with women’s lives over the years as it has arbitrarily expanded or limited its scope of restrictions on access to insurance coverage for abortion care.

I’m sure Henry Hyde, the conservative Congressman who proposed the amendment , knew that low-income women would be disproportionately impacted by this measure.  He even said so in a Congressional debate:  “I certainly would like to prevent, if I could legally, anybody having an abortion: a rich woman, a middle-class woman or a poor woman. Unfortunately, the only vehicle available is the… Medicaid bill.”

However, he may or may have not realized that low-income Latinas would be negatively impacted by the amendment. One in three Latinos/as are uninsured and one in four Latinas live in poverty, meaning that many Latinas will be denied the health care they need just because they obtained their insurance through the federal government.  As Medicaid expansion continues, even more Latinas may be subject to this ban.  To make matters worse, the Hyde Amendment only exacerbates the severe health disparities and barriers to abortion care that Latinas currently experience.  These include lack of transportation to see health care providers, lack of linguistically and culturally competent providers, and lack of immigration status.

If you think that all women should have real, meaningful access to abortion care regardless of their source of insurance coverage, join the All Above All campaign.

Let’s talk about sex (and abortion), baby. How the Hyde Amendment hurts Asian American and Pacific Islander women

Christine Poquiz, Resident Blogger (’12, University of California, Davis School of Law)

As we reach the end of Abortion Access Month, September 30,2013 marks the 37th anniversary of the Hyde Amendment.  The Hyde Amendment bans public insurance, like Medicaid, from covering the costs of abortion care. On its face, it may not sound like a big deal, but the Hyde amendment is one of the biggest obstacles for poor women and women of color seeking an abortion. Restricting Medicaid coverage of abortion forces 1 in 4 poor women to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term.

Advocates in the reproductive justice, health and rights movement throw the words “Hyde Amendment” around like everyone understands what it means. Through my work at the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), I know abortion coverage is a difficult topic to talk about. Before we can even talk about funding for abortions, we have to first get the community to care about the right to abortion, and before that, we need to have frank discussions about sex, sexuality, sex education, etc. Culturally, it’s generally taboo to discuss these issues. Growing up, I’d see white parents having “the talk” with their kids about sex and safe sex on TV shows and movies. However, in my Filipino-American household, and probably many other AAPI homes, it was something that was never mentioned other than the occasional “don’t get pregnant.” But there was no discussion about how not to get pregnant or about sex in general. Conversations about abortion are even harder to have. Granted, abortion is a difficult topic no matter the community, but it seems to be that it’s almost never talked about in AAPI families.

How do we get the AAPI community to start talking about abortion? The need is high. Though research on our community is limited, the studies we do have show that some AAPI subpopulations have high rates of unintended pregnancies and utilize abortion care at high rates. Furthermore, sexually active AAPI women use contraception at significantly lower rates.

It’s important for us to start having frank discussions about sex and dispel the myth that AAPIs are the model minority and aren’t affected by policies like the Hyde Amendment. 1 in 10 Asian Americans, 1 in 7 Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders, and 1 in 5 Southeast Asians rely on Medicaid. Additionally, 26% of Hmong and 20% of Bangladeshis live below the poverty line.  The Hyde Amendment is a very real concern for women in AAPI community. Hyde can make abortion care unaffordable and out of reach for women who depend on Medicaid and other public insurance. Without the ability to access it, the right to abortion becomes meaningless. Women of color and poor women do not need another barrier to healthcare; they deserve insurance coverage for ALL of their healthcare— including abortion.

What makes the Hyde Amendment even more frustrating is that Congress reauthorizes it every year. This is something that Congress has to affirmatively vote on every year to renew. It’s up to us to ask for its repeal. On this 37th anniversary of Hyde, advocates and activists are demanding just that. Here at NAPAWF, we’re engaging in a social media campaign that lifts up how the Hyde Amendment hurts AAPI women.

Join us on twitter or facebook to weigh in on the conversation. Let’s start talking about it.

Reflections on the Past Year

Candace Gibson, University of Utah College of Law

It has been a whirlwind ride for me as a 3L.  Last summer, when I was planning my 3L year, I wasn’t thinking of starting a LSRJ chapter.  However, I became convinced by one of my mentors to start one. Now, I am sad to leave the U of U Law Students for Reproductive Justice Chapter.

We’ve had a great year. Unlike some of our sister chapters in the Mountain West, we did not have any bureaucratic obstacles to fight and so far, we have gained the respect of our student body and of the other student organizations.  Maybe, we’ll know we have arrived when there is a pro-life law students group on our campus.  We planned and co-hosted five panels, the topics ranged from academic scholarship in reproductive rights to domestic violence in immigrant communities to the valuable contributions of medical practitioners.  We made condom kits twice to help the HIV Prevention Program at the Utah Pride Center and we created a presentation around the legal issues that some Latina adolescents face in Salt Lake City.  We also tabled the months of October and November on various RJ topics.  It was a fun but exhausting year!

All of this could not have been done without the energy and work of our 2011-2012 board who stepped up when they needed to and told me that they were too exhausted to do another thing.   These moments remind me that when you are doing social justice work you have to set some boundaries or else you will be exhausted and no longer useful to your community or your movement.

The other important lesson I am learning is that we always need to mentor.  Often, as adults either pursuing education or because we are still getting our act together, we never think of ourselves as mentors but as mentees.  We need to keep thinking as chapter leaders and as members that we not only mentor during a transition meeting and after we have left, but that we are mentoring while we are leading our chapters and are mentored by our other chapter members.   As a movement, we need to keep mentoring so that we never become irrelevant or worse, we end up erasing the efforts of younger members by saying they aren’t doing anything. (I’m sure you have all heard about the comments made by older feminists who think that we younger feminists are only sitting on their laurels and twiddling our thumbs.)

Aside from these serious thoughts, I want you all to wish next year’s U of U Law Students for Reproductive Justice Chapter board the best of luck.  I’m thinking they will certainly put us one step closer to having our archrival, Law Students for the Right to Life, on campus.

The Repro Rundown

RH Reality Check produces a new short of women sharing their stories entitled, “Our Reality: Women and HIV.”

On April 2, 2012 Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) performed the largest immigration sweep to date arresting three thousand people in six days. What does this mean for families?

Sady Doyle highlights the intersection between Feminism and Immigration and the ways some women are left out.

Round of virtual applause to the UVA LSRJ chapter for hosting a session called Challenges to Choice in Virginia.

Check out this real world example of how the 20 week abortion ban hurts families. Although this instance is one of the “perfect victim”—heterosexual married couple that wanted a pregnancy—it does serve to illustrate how this law impacts real lives and how more people should share their stories.

Esmé Deprez shows us how Curbing Female Reproductive Rights Raises Taxpayers Costs.

Reproductive Rights and Justice for the Migrant Community

Burke Bindbeutel, University of Missouri School of Law

Last week, at a trial in a federal courthouse, I got to observe the effects of immigration policy on the human body’s dignity. If it does nothing else, reproductive justice limits what our government can force upon our bodies–the sources of our most fundamental autonomy. The people I saw in court came north to live by their sweat, and their bodily presence on this side of the Rio Grande was enough to have them rounded up and caged. Although it was chilling to witness the deprivation, I was heartened by the response of the court to the human need.

A fellow Mizzou law student and I dispatched to the borderlands during our spring break. In Del Rio, Texas we caught an episode of the fast-paced human drama known as Operation Streamline. Nine out of eleven Border Patrol sectors along the U.S.-Mexico border have opted to criminally prosecute unlawful migrants. Instead of the consequence-free administrative process favored by California, where Mexican migrants are released at the border, Streamline ensures a criminal record for the migrants. If they attempt to return to the United States, their offense could land them two years in jail.

Sixty-two defendants pled guilty and were sentenced in less than an hour. Just as the blisteringly fast proceeding ended, the prisoners complained that they had not received clean clothes or showers during their five-day incarceration. Inadequate hygienic services probably did not outrage the prisoners. They had already endured a difficult journey, some of them from as far as El Salvador. If clandestine train-hopping across a war zone didn’t deter them, then they probably don’t mind going without soap. But it’s incumbent on the judicial system that removes people en masse to provide basic dignities, which are just as necessary due process of law.

I thought of our work with LSRJ when one of the two women being sentenced told the judge that she needed to tomar pastillas para mi embarazo. The girl couldn’t have weighed ninety pounds. She was sitting out in the public benches due to space constraints, and from where I was sitting I couldn’t see her shackles, so I thought she was there to watch, like I was. But she was a pregnant border-crosser who had politely asked for pills to relieve morning sickness. Pregnancy has always seemed an unimaginable servitude to me, and here was this woman, barely more than a girl, wading across the Rio Grande by moonlight and imagining a better home for her kid than war-torn Mexico.

Our constitution’s guarantee of birthright citizenship has been rebranded as a loophole for the offensively-coined “anchor babies.” Because people born on American soil are citizens regardless of their parents’ status, the anti-immigration lobby has detected an incentive for poor and pregnant people to decamp for their child’s birth.

It’s true that free trade policies combined with porous borders have encouraged mass migration. Perhaps if the United States were to curtail the opportunity for fresh arrivals to plant roots in our country, we could avoid having to deal with pregnant prisoners. Senator John Kyl advocates repeal of birthright citizenship. But I don’t think that would strike at the root of the problem of massive inequality in the border region. The border divides north from south, but it also divides rich and poor. Even if the U.S. won’t provide this woman a hospital bed, it ought to at least see that the basic needs of her body are attended to.

Concerns that so-called “aliens” have compromised hospital services are misplaced. In rural Texas, hospital care’s availability suffers from poor regulation and exploitative insurance companies. Blaming opportunists distracts from the systemic problems in our health system. It’s similar to those who blame the struggles of an unequal and financially strapped education system on a few freeloaders.

Reproductive justice will exist when people can “decide whether, when and how to have and parent children, with dignity, free from discrimination, coercion or violence.” It’s a sign of an unresponsive immigration policy when prospective mothers risk life and limb for a chance the chance to safely deliver. In Del Rio, the judge assured the prisoner that she would receive medical attention, but for the dozens more defendants on the next day’s Streamline docket, there are no guarantees.

The Repro Rundown

 

After 2 years of the Affordable Care Act, LSRJ boardmember and RJ fellow, Erin Armstrong shares 5 ways in which Health Reform Supports Women.

A bill for an online database listing names of abortion providers? More anti-choice legislation is put forward in Tennessee.

Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum Miriam Yeung highlights the struggle of Mothers and children targeted and separated in ICE raids, and the underlying human rights offenses against undocumented families.

Indigenous Lakota women push for access to Plan B contraception in South Dakota and explain why the Tribal Law and Order Act is so important to their communities.

Following the murder of  17 year old Trayvon Martin February 26th, the  implications of Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground Laws’ are explored.