in this email:
(1) New York Times - San Francisco Reaches Out to Immigrants
AlterNet - Sexual Abuse Fueled by Abusiv
e Immigration Language
(3) NYTimes.com: A Natural Treasure That May End Up Without a Country
(4) Seattle Times - Life 10 months after being deported to Mexico...
Brideless in Provo: Immigration bureaucracy keeps elderly newlyweds aparthttp://www.heraldextra.com/content/view/261477/17/
(6)Chertoff: Failure of immigration reform led to extreme measureshttp://www.newsday.com/news/local/wire/connecticut/ny-bc-ct--homelandsecurity0407apr07,0,7354004.story
Judge puts English only on voter formshttp://www.desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080404/NEWS10/804040386/-1/SPORTS0808
Nebraska warns of fake licenses being sold to illegal immigrants
(9) Washington Post [AP] -
Vermont College Welcomes Refugees
The New York Times
April 6, 2008
San Francisco Reaches Out to Immigrants
By JESSE McKINLEY
SAN FRANCISCO — The city of San Francisco has started an advertising
push with a very specific target market: illegal immigrants. And while
the advertisements will come in a bundle of languages — English,
Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Vietnamese — they all carry the same
message: you are safe here.
In what may be the first such campaign of its kind, the city plans to
publish multilanguage brochures and fill the airwaves with
advertisements relaying assurance that San Francisco will not report
them to federal immigration authorities.
Mayor Gavin Newsom said the campaign was simply an amplification of a
longstanding position of not cooperating with immigration raids or
other enforcement. The city passed a so-called sanctuary ordinance in
Still, Mr. Newsom said, it never hurts to advertise. "It's one thing
to have a policy on paper," he said. "It's another to communicate it
directly to people who could be impacted."
The television and radio campaign will tell immigrants they have "safe
access" to public services, including schools, health clinics and —
perhaps most importantly — the police, something that local law
enforcement officials say is a chronic problem in émigré communities.
"It is a trademark of a criminal predator to convince victims that
because of the victims' immigration status that they — not the
predator — will be treated as the criminal," said Kamala Harris, the
city's district attorney. "We want to remove that tool from the
criminal's tool belt."
Ms. Harris said particular problems in immigrant communities include
human trafficking, fraud and elder abuse, which she said was widely
San Francisco is not alone in its sanctuary status; New York, Detroit
and Washington have policies that discourage the police from enforcing
immigration law. Nevertheless, the campaign's announcement prompted a
round of eye-rolling among anti-immigration forces in California and
Washington, many of whom are still galled by the city's 2007 decision
to grant identification cards to anyone who could prove residence,
regardless of legal status.
"I guess it's what you expect from San Francisco," said Ira Mehlman of
the Federation for American Immigration Reform in Washington, which
lobbies for stronger immigration enforcement. "But now, not only are
they helping people break the law of the federal government, they are
advertising it. I don't know of any other city actually looking for
Rick Oltman, national media director for Californians for Population
Stabilization in Santa Barbara, said the campaign could actually be a
boon for other Bay Area cities if it drew illegal immigrants out of
those communities and into San Francisco.
"The only people who are the losers here are the people of San
Francisco who are going to hate the way the city looks in two or five
years, when the illegal immigrant population grows massively," said
Mr. Oltman, who said such populations had a negative effect on crime,
education, health and the environment.
But Mr. Newsom said his advertising campaign was less a hard sell than
a hard look at the reality of immigration policy.
"We're not arguing against common-sense reforms," he said. "We're not
arguing against reforms at all. But in lieu of that, we're doing the
best we can to say if they see a crime report it, and if they have a
child educate them."
Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company
http://www.nytimes. com/2008/ 04/06/us/ 06immig.html
Life after an illegal immigrant is sent home================================================================
Full story: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2004330685_mexicoana06m.html
By Lornet Turnbull
Seattle Times staff reporter
MEXICO CITY -- Ana Reyes walks briskly through a crowded neighborhood here, out
of place among the provocatively dressed women of the night soliciting work in
the middle of the day.
The 41-year-old mother of four slips through the entrance of a clothing store,
its racks thick with the latest fashion, a sign on the door indicating the shop
is hiring female assistants.
She approaches the manager about the job but is told it's only for women 20 to
30 years old.
Manager Maria Inez elaborates when prompted: "A younger girl will be able to
bring more male customers into the store. She's too old."
Ten months after she was picked up by immigration officers in an early-morning
raid of her Burien home and soon deported to Mexico, Reyes -- jobless and broke
-- struggles to eke out the barest existence in the dirt-poor barrios of one of
the world's biggest and most crowded cities.
After nearly two decades picking hops and fruit in Eastern Washington and
cleaning hotel rooms near Seattle, she was among more than 870,000 Mexicans the
U.S. government expelled from the country last year.
For all the attention illegal immigrants get in the U.S. -- from those who
believe they're a drain on social services to advocates who say they do the jobs
Americans won't -- little is known about what happens to them after they're
ushered by U.S. immigration authorities through revolving doors into Mexico's
Once there, they get little help from their government. Many stay, others try to
get back to their hometowns. For the most part no one tracks them -- not their
government, or the U.S., or their advocacy groups in the states. They become
largely forgotten -- along with the U.S.-born children they sometimes take with
Reyes' two adult sons, Christian and Carlos Quiroz, whom she and her
then-husband had brought illegally into the U.S. as little boys, were also
returned to Mexico last year.
And with no family in the U.S., Reyes' two American daughters, Julie Quiroz, now
13, and Sharise Hernandez, 6, have also joined her here.
Now, unable to find work in a city she left 18 years ago, Reyes shuffles between
the cramped homes of a brother and a sister in neighborhoods so unsafe her
children aren't allowed outside to play.
Neither daughter is in school.
The older one longs for her life in Seattle, saying that on the rare occasion
she gets close enough to the hotels that cater to tourists here, she strains to
hear Americans speak. "I always think that if I had the courage I'd go up and
talk to them," Julie said.
For her mother, small things, like the Starbucks white-chocolate mocha her son
sometimes buys her, remind her of their old life. And some days she thinks of
little else but how to get it back.
"It's ugly here," Reyes said, sitting in her sister's living room, her children
and other family members around her.
"I never wanted to come back here to live. I wanted to stay and watch my
daughters go to school and graduate, have the kind of life I didn't have."
Fuel for economy
The engine of the American service economy runs on the labor of many of the 12
million immigrants in the U.S. illegally.
Many had fled poverty in small towns across Mexico and Latin America, becoming
the cheap labor that builds houses, cleans hotel rooms and tends gardens in the
In recent years, stepped-up immigration enforcement increasingly has led to
their arrests in work-site raids, on routine traffic stops, when immigration
officers sweep through jails and prisons or, in cases such as Reyes', when they
show up at the front door.
"This country simply can't absorb them all," said Neil Clark, Seattle-based
field-office director for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, pointing out
the U.S. already admits about 1 million legal immigrants a year.
"People have got to demand changes in their home countries if they want to make
things better," he said. "Coming to the U.S. is not the solution to Mexico's
Neither, it seems, is deportation.
For Mexico, the return of illegal immigrants is a double punch: The economy
loses the deportees' share of some $24 billion that Mexicans abroad send home
each year. And back in the small towns they fled, deportees compete for what few
low-paying jobs exist.
"Sometimes they leave with much fanfare and dreams of getting the family out of
poverty -- only to be sent back home, their deportation seen as a failure," said
Erica Dahl-Bredine, country manager for Catholic Relief Services Mexico, based
in Tucson, Ariz.
So many don't go back home but instead remain in border towns such as Tijuana
and Juárez -- sometimes because they don't have money for a bus ticket home
but mostly because they're waiting for a chance to re-enter the U.S.
It's what Reyes might have done last July if she'd had the money to pay a
smuggler to help her return to the U.S. Instead, she returned to her family in
Mexico City, buying time while she figures out a way to get back to Seattle.
She'd first come to the attention of U.S. immigration authorities in 1998 when
she got into a fight with another woman on a street in the Eastern Washington
town of Sunnyside, violating a restraining order.
In 2003, an immigration judge granted her a chance to leave the U.S.
voluntarily, saying her daughters were young enough that they could adjust to
life in Mexico. She appealed and lost, but never left, she said, because she
kept hoping changes in U.S. immigration laws would allow her to stay legally.
She was asleep the morning 10 months ago when a team of Immigration and Customs
Enforcement officers knocked on the door of her apartment, her name on their
fugitive list for that day.
Among those inside, besides her two daughters, were her younger son, Carlos; her
boyfriend and the father of her younger daughter, Arturo Hernandez; and her
brother-in-law Luis Hernandez. The men were all returned to Mexico. Reyes' older
son was living in Tacoma and deported several months later.
Later, Reyes would remark that if deported, she would not bring her daughters to
Mexico because she would not be staying long.
She couldn't have known how bad things would get for her here.
Mexico City as home
The metropolitan area of Mexico City is the second-largest in the world --
teeming with congestion, pollution and poverty. The divide between rich and poor
It is, in so many ways, removed from the green landscape and fresh air of
Western Washington, where Reyes lived in an apartment complex and worked as a
hotel maid for nearly half her years in the U.S. On good days, she earned about
$70 a day, her boyfriend about twice that.
Much of what the family had was left behind in the Burien apartment: a
microwave, beds, tables, other furniture. "Everything that I worked really hard
for," Reyes said.
Now, in Mexico, home is sometimes her brother's third-floor, two-bedroom
apartment near the historic center of the city, where drug dealers and
prostitutes hug grimy street corners, conducting business in full view of the
Mostly, it's her sister Patricia Reyes' cramped two-bedroom house in Arboledas,
a poor neighborhood that is part of the city's stubborn march toward the
mountains surrounding it.
The house is like many others throughout the city, joined to those on either
side, with the street as its front yard.
Her family lives like many in Mexico's large cities, doubling and sometimes
tripling up under the same roof. Up to 10 family members sometimes share her
sister's home. Reyes sleeps on a mattress on the floor, a wooden bar braced at
the front door to keep rats from scurrying inside.
She is often depressed, her family said.
"We're been back and forth, back and forth," Reyes said. "It's the hardest thing
because I had my own place up there, my own car, my own money. I have nothing
Looking for work
Reyes' age, long absence from Mexico and lack of a high-school diploma help
explain why the hotels, restaurants and stores where she seeks work aren't
calling her back.
"I tried the hotel jobs and even when I tell them how much experience I have, I
still don't get called," she said. "They say that someone younger will produce
more than me."
Susanna Noguez, who works in the protection department in the Mexican consulate
office in Seattle, said, "If she has the intention of finding any kind of work,
it's not easy, but it's not impossible."
In this city, getting work also depends on whom you know.
Reyes' 68-year-old father slowly shakes his head when asked if he can use his
position as a former government worker to help.
"Before, when I was younger, there was lots of work here -- enough for
everybody," Luis Reyes said. "Now everything has gotten more corrupt ... ."
"The people I can call, they're all retired, like me. They can't help."
So five evenings a week, Reyes does what many of her generation here do to make
a living -- she peddles on the street.
She and sister Patricia roll a food cart up a dusty street to sell quesadillas
for 70 cents, gorditas for 90 cents. On a good night they can clear $20. On this
particular one, they had three customers.
One was 28-year-old Santo Lopez, who had been deported from the U.S. only a few
months earlier. He had lived for four years in Hope, Ark., he said, holding down
jobs in a mechanic shop and at a warehouse.
He's found a food-processing job here that pays $80 for a six-day week but says
he could make that same amount in two or three hours in the states.
"I hear they are now jailing people they catch trying to cross the border," he
said. "If things get much worse for me here, I might consider just that. Life in
detention in the states might be better than it is here."
Lopez bought three quesadillas.
On evenings like these, unsold inventory becomes the family's meal. At the end
of every day, everyone in the family pools what money they made that day.
"And that's how we survive," Reyes said. "It's not the life I imagined for my
But many who oppose the presence of illegal immigrants in the U.S. say it's
right to deport them and that the hard realities of life across the border are
Mexico's to resolve.
"Maybe if the Mexican government was half as concerned about its people in
Mexico, so many of them would not be trying to get out," said Ira Mehlman,
spokesman for the Federation of American Immigration Reform.
How it began
Reyes grew up in a relatively poor neighborhood near central Mexico City, one of
She didn't finish high school but attended a trade school, where she was trained
as a secretary and later got work with the government.
She married young and had her first child at 18 and her second child four years
In the late 1980s, her husband followed the wave of Mexicans going north for
jobs in the fruit farms in Washington and California.
He crossed illegally and settled in Eastern Washington; she followed in 1990,
walking three hours with a smuggler whom her husband had paid $1,000.
She said she was apprehended by U.S. border authorities and promised a work
permit, Social Security number and legal status if she would testify against the
But the smuggler ended up admitting to the charges and the deal for the green
card was off, though Reyes was granted what most illegal immigrants covet -- a
valid Social Security number and a work permit, which would expire a few months
The couple settled outside Yakima in Sunnyside, where they worked in the hops
fields, then picked apples and cherries.
About a year later, they sent for their boys, 7 and 3 at the time, paying a
coyote to guide the children through the desert.
But authorities stopped the boys and the smuggler. The children, now grown,
speak of spending days in foster homes, separated from one other and afraid,
before their father came from Washington and all three crossed with a coyote.
Reyes' relationship with her husband grew strained, and in the winter of 1998,
he moved without the family to Western Washington.
With no money, she and her children were evicted from their Sunnyside apartment.
They moved in with Arturo Hernandez, who was renting a small trailer in the same
Together, in 2001, they followed other Mexican fruit pickers to the
construction, restaurant and hotel jobs in and around Seattle. Reyes landed a
job at SeaTac Crest Motor Inn, where Manager Karl Singh calls her a "really hard
and honest worker."
"We still miss her," he said.
Plotting their return
Soon after she was deported, Reyes, the girls and her younger son went to live
with Hernandez and his family in a small town outside Aguascalientes, some 300
miles northwest of Mexico City.
It is here they sometimes return when they need to give her brother and sister
some space. When they arrive, the two-bedroom house Hernandez shares with his
extended family comes alive. Reyes and the kids say they feel safer here. There
are other children for the girls to play with and they can walk the few blocks
to the neighborhood store.
Hernandez, who had been employed by a Tacoma boat builder for $20 an hour, now
starts his days tending his father's horses and goats. He's not found a job
because all seem to require the high-school diploma he doesn't have.
He had gone to the U.S. when he was 16, making enough to send money back to his
aging parents every two weeks.
"Now I'm back and there's nothing here," he said. "My parents have to help me
because I have no money."
His mother said she was apprehensive when he left. "He was still a boy," Maria
Pilar said. "I prayed that he would be fine."
When his mother first learned he was being deported, she was at once happy
because she would be seeing him again and devastated by what she knew were dim
So he and Reyes, along with her grown sons, haven't stopped plotting ways to get
back to Seattle.
She thinks her only chance of doing that legally is years away and hinges on
daughter Julie, whom she thinks can petition for her when she turns 21.
But it's not that simple: Because Reyes lived illegally in the states for 17
years, she faces a 10-year bar to legal entry. So Julie would have to be 23 and
have a home established in the U.S. before she could petition for her mother to
Reyes and Hernandez are considering an offer from an Edmonds real-estate
investor who learned of their circumstances and has offered to help them
relocate to Juarez. The girls could stay with a family in El Paso, Texas,
and attend school there during the week. But the idea of seeing her mother only
on weekends worries Julie.
A few months ago, it was a different plan -- to cross illegally with a group of
people who had been deported from Phoenix.
Then they heard that a cold front had passed through the desert, leaving four
people dead of exposure. And they found out that U.S. immigration authorities
are now jailing -- not just catching and releasing -- those caught sneaking
across the border.
So that plan, at least for now, is on hold.
Lornet Turnbull: 206-464-2420 or lturnbull@...
Copyright (c) 2007 The Seattle Times Company
The New York Times
| April 7, 2008
A Natural Treasure That May End Up Without a Country
By DAN BARRY
The Sabal Palm Audubon Center in Brownsville, Tex., home to rare birds
and other wildlife, may end up on the Mexico side of a planned border
A Natural Treasure That May End Up Without a Country
The New York Times Company
At the very bottom of this country, where the Rio Grande loops up
and down as if determined to thwart territorial imperatives, there sits
a natural wonderland called the Sabal Palm Audubon Center. Rare birds
of impossible colors dart about the rustling jungle, while snakes
slink, tortoises dawdle and the occasional ocelot grants a rare
After decades of reclamation and preservation, and after millions of
public and private dollars spent, this has become a vital place in one
of the nation’s very poorest cities. Beyond the busloads of gawking
schoolchildren, the center also attracts birders from around the world
to spend money the color of their beloved olive sparrow in local
restaurants and hotels.
But if you yearn to hear the clattering call of the chachalaca at
Sabal Palm, your travel plans perhaps should factor in the Fence. Yes,
the Fence: that ever-encroaching cross between the Berlin Wall and
Christo’s Gates (Artist: Michael Chertoff, secretary of homeland security, with funding provided by the United States of America).
The guardians of Sabal Palm fear, and with good reason, that in trying to keep out illegal immigrants, the Department of Homeland Security
will soon be erecting the border fence just north of the bird
sanctuary, effectively trimming this natural treasure from the rest of
the country and probably forcing its closure. In other words, they say,
a very thoughtful gift of about 550 acres to Mexico.
And this may be a gift that keeps on giving. Conservationists and
landowners worry that the Fence will also cut across a river-hugging
wildlife corridor that stretches over several Texas counties, painstakingly restored and maintained by, among others, the federal government.
Nailing down Homeland Security’s plans is like trying to spot the
elusive ocelot. When asked whether the agency intends to build the
Fence north of the sanctuary, its chief spokesman, Russ Knocke, said:
“I can’t rule that out, but I cannot also definitely tell you that that
will be the case.”
He said the agency had adjusted its plans in the past to address
environmental issues whenever possible (although it announced last week
that it would bypass environmental reviews to expedite construction of
the Fence). For example, he said, a stretch of the Fence in the Arizona
desert includes crevices for an endangered lizard — crevices “too small
for a human being to get through and large enough for the lizard.”
Mr. Knocke said the agency would continue to listen to advice and
complaints from the public, but he emphasized its desire “to move
quickly,” given its Congressional mandate to install fencing and other
security measures along the southern border by the end of the year.
So when will the National Audubon Society learn whether its Sabal
Palm sanctuary winds up south of the new border? “I couldn’t tell you a
specific date,” Mr. Knocke said. “But there should be no uncertainty
about how quickly we want to move.”
Put yourself, then, in the dusty shoes of Jimmy Paz, 66, the
weathered manager of Sabal Palm. At the moment he is sitting at a
picnic bench outside the modest visitors center, trying to speak above
some chattering chachalacas feeding on grapefruit rinds. Now and then
he interrupts himself to point out the iridescent brilliance of a green
jay, or to ask passing birders where they are from.
Montana, a few say. California, say others.
Mr. Paz, a native of not just Brownsville but “beautiful
Brownsville,” knows the area and its rhythms. He says the Fence would
create a twilight zone out of a swath of distinctive American soil,
disrupt and damage wildlife and have the opposite of the intended
effect: it will be the birders and other tourists — not the illegal
immigrants — who stop coming. It may also put him out of a job.
“It would be like putting a fence around Central Park,” he said.
Mr. Paz remembers cycling as a boy to the “palm jungle” along the
Rio to re-enact scenes from the Tarzan movies he had just seen at the
Queen Theatre in downtown beautiful Brownsville. After a decade in the
Army, he returned to hold a series of jobs, including police officer
and windshield repairman, while the Audubon Society
acquired parcels of that jungle to create a sanctuary to be called
Sabal Palm, after the stocky palm trees of the Rio Grande valley.
Ten years ago he became manager of the very property where he once
imitated Johnny Weissmuller — property that sits roughly between a
bio-diverse preserve owned by the Nature Conservancy of Texas and a swath of land restored by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Combined, Eden.
Mr. Paz has come to know those who frequent this sanctuary: the
buff-bellied hummingbirds, the long-billed thrashers, the ever-prowling
Border Patrol agents, the river-wet visitors from Mexico, passing
through. Driving the grounds in his pickup truck, he points to a
telltale inflatable tube, discarded at river’s edge.
A decade ago, he says, federal agents intercepted hundreds of
illegal immigrants a month on Sabal Palm grounds. But as border
security increased, and as patterns changed, the number of
interceptions dropped dramatically. Now, he says, not even 20 a month
are caught, with very few carrying contraband like marijuana.
Yes, until recently life was peaceful at Sabal Palm. The
schoolchildren and birders would come in. Mr. Paz and his assistant,
Cecilia Farrell, would collect the small fee, sell handbooks, maintain
the grounds. Come 5 o’clock, they would leave the sanctuary in the care
of a wiry night watchman who has lived on the property for nearly a
half-century. His name is Ernie Ortiz, he is 82, and he packs a .38.
What’s more, the relationship between the Border Patrol and Sabal
Palm was quite friendly. Border Patrol sensors are in the sanctuary’s
soil, in its mesquite trees, everywhere. And when Sabal Palm staged a
hawk watch, the Border Patrol provided a portable tower for spotting
nothing more than birds.
But now Sabal Palm lives from rumor to rumor, gleaned mostly from
Mr. Paz’s chats with border agents and a proposed map contained in a
draft report by the federal government. There will be a fence along the
levee. A fence along the levee with a gate. A fence along the levee
with a gate, and Sabal Palm will have a key.
None of these eases the concerns that Anne Brown, the executive
director of Audubon Texas, has about insurance, city services — the
sanctuary’s very existence. “Do we check passports?” she asks. “Since
the fence becomes the new border, what are we? Are we in Mexico?”
Homeland Security says it will reveal its plans for Brownsville
very soon. Until then, the likes of Mr. Paz carry on, unsure of the
very ground they stand on.
------------ --------- --------- -------
Sexual Abuse Fueled by Abusive Immigration Language
http://www.alternet .org/rights/ 81275
Describing immigrants in dehumanizing terms like "illegals" turns
women into targets for sexist oppressors, from anti-choicers to rapists.
------------ --------- --------- -------
============ ========= ========= ========= ========= ========= =========
Sexual Abuse Fueled by Abusive Immigration Language
By Amanda Marcotte, RH Reality Check
Posted on April 7, 2008, Printed on April 7, 2008
http://www.alternet .org/story/ 81275/
In all the furor over rising immigration rates in the U.S. -- often
disguised as concern over "illegal" immigration -- one story in
particular demonstrates that contrary to scare stories about the
effect of immigration on this country, the reality is that this
country is often a scary and oppressive place for immigrants. And
immigrant women, having drawn the double whammy card, are especially
vulnerable. A 22-year-old immigrant from Colombia exposed her
immigration agent using the threat of deportation to rape her, using
her cell phone to tape the assault. Unfortunately, as is all too
common with these sorts of stories, most reports describe the event as
sex, even while making it clear that the sex is question was coerced,
and should be more accurately described as rape.
The story has hooks most likely because it's about how a common crime
-- sexual blackmail against immigrants and other women marginalized in
society -- became more difficult to hide and ignore because of new
technologies. But despite the dubious reasons why this story hit the
mainstream news, the activist community can still seize this
opportunity to make two very important points: 1) Immigration is a
feminist issue and 2) The distinctions between "legal" and "illegal"
immigrants is red herring to distract from the fact that it's
immigrants, full stop, who face oppression under a tidal wave of
This woman's story demonstrates the way that the cut-and-dry
distinctions between illegal and legal immigrants touted by the Lou
Dobbses of the world tend to turn shades of gray when examined
closely. Or actually, shades of paperwork. The rape victim entered the
U.S. legally on a tourist visa and overstayed, but managed to enter
the system to get her green card by marrying a citizen, which all but
the worst mouth-breathers accept as a legitimate way to get a green
card. Her story shows why it's front-loaded and racist to describe a
human being as "illegal," especially when her illegal actions were
misdemeanors such that they didn't even raise the ire of the law when
she got her paperwork in order. I've managed to drive a car before
after letting my inspection lapse, and then got the ticket
straightened out by renewing my inspection sticker, an equivalent
crime. No one describes my very being as illegal, though. Though rape,
on the other hand, is not a minor crime and is earth-shattering enough
that it's acceptable to describe the people who commit that crimes as
"rapists," I suspect that rapists get called by that moniker less
often than immigrants without their paperwork in order get called
Words like "illegals" dehumanize immigrants, whether or not they have
their paperwork in order, and that dehumanization makes immigrant
women juicy targets for assorted sexist oppressors, from anti-choicers
to wife beaters to rapists, as this woman's story shows. One Honduran
immigrant faced charges after trying to self-abort with an ulcer
medication, an attempt that failed to induce abortion, but was linked
to her giving birth to a premature infant who passed away. The same
article notes that a 22-year-old Mexican immigrant living in South
Carolina was put in jail for inducing her own abortion with the
medication at home. That immigrant women often resort to self-abortion
should surprise no one. Not only is safe, legal abortion financially
daunting for a number of women, the atmosphere of dehumanization of
immigrants makes many women understandably eager to reduce their
encounters with authority figures of any type, including doctors.
Green card manipulation isn't just a trick practiced by immigration
officials wanting to control and dominate women, either. According to
the Family Violence Prevention Fund (PDF), many domestic abusers use
threats about immigration status to keep women in relationships with
them. Whether married to citizens or non-citizens, the quasi-legal
status assigned to immigrants means that many victims of domestic
violence fear seeking help; consequently, the rates of domestic
violence are significantly higher for immigrant women than women at
large. Congress stepped in to create the International Marriage
Brokers Regulation Act, which gives immigrant women the right to leave
abusive marriages without being deported. It also requires that men
who go through "marriage broker" services to disclose their domestic
violence histories to potential brides.
If you ever want to despair of the human condition, Google the term
"IMBRA" -- the vast majority of the results returned are authored by
men outraged at these entirely reasonable measures that keep men from
beating their immigrant wives and using green cards as leverage to
perpetuate the violence. Strangely, few of these websites argue that
men should be given the direct right to beat women, but it's hard to
imagine what other worldview they could be operating under, when they
think that it should be perfectly legal for a man to threaten his wife
with deportation if she leaves him after a round of beating. If you
are under the incorrect impression that sexism is dead and feminism
isn't needed anymore, I recommend listening to the howls of men who
think the government owes them the right to treat immigrant women like
a population available for their punching bag and sexual assault
needs. That goes double for you if you've ever sneered at the term
"intersections of oppression," because I can't think of a better
Amanda Marcotte co-writes the popular blog Pandagon.
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