Archive for August, 2011

“Secure Communities” Endangers Women, Immigrants, and People of Color

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

Third Wave lends our support to this statement, released on August 15th, 2011. You can also download (PDF) a version of this statement to share.

DHS’ DECISION TO UNILATERALLY MOVE FORWARD WITH SECURE COMMUNITIES PUTS WOMEN IN DANGER

Immigrant Rights and Women’s Rights Groups Denounce the Decision Nationwide

On August 5th, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it would unilaterally terminate all contracts with states and localities in an attempt to further implement the “Secure Communities” program nationwide, despite calls for the agency to suspend the program. Immigrant rights and women’s rights organizations strongly oppose this unilateral decision by DHS, before the local hearings on Secure Communities’ effects have even taken place. DHS’ announcement demonstrates that the hearings are a farce, and that DHS is determined to implement Secure Communities, regardless of public opposition or its demonstrated impact on survivors of crime. We continue to oppose Secure Communities and any law that encourages ICE to transfer its responsibility to local law enforcement. Secure Communities undermines local law enforcement’s commitment to community policing, which puts immigrant women, their families, and their communities in danger.

Since its introduction, the “Secure Communities” (abbreviated “S-Comm”) program has been opposed by local and state civic leaders, elected officials, law enforcement agents, religious leaders, and human rights advocates. S-Comm forces local law enforcement agents to act as an arm of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) by detaining persons who are arrested, but not charged with a crime, so that they can be processed for deportation. Since implementation began, more than one million people have been deported under S-Comm, the vast majority of whom have no criminal history, despite DHS’ claims that the program targets individuals who are dangers to society. Instead, the program promotes racial profiling, destroys families, and undermines community relations with police that are essential to public safety. Continued ambiguity on the part of DHS regarding S-Comm has led to the Office of the Inspector General to initiate an audit into this controversial program.

S-Comm puts survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault at increased risk. It is threatening the progress our country has made in the last three decades to bring violence against women out from behind closed doors by making women afraid to call the police for help, for fear of arrest and deportation if they are undocumented. The program encourages violence against women and destroys the community trust in law enforcement that is necessary for safe neighborhoods for all members of a community, regardless of immigration status.

Immigrant women are increasingly breadwinners and often provide more stability for their family. Yet they are criminalized, and sometimes brutalized, for trying to keep families safe and healthy. Immigrant mothers, who are simply working to make ends meet, are bearing the brunt of these anti-immigrant policies. They risk being arrested for walking their kids to school, they must worry about who will provide care for their children if they are suddenly detained or deported, and when families are indeed separated by deportation, the well-documented psychological effects on both parents and children continue to devastate families for years.

Immigrant communities and women’s rights advocates are coming together to oppose the deeply problematic “Secure Communities” program. We pledge to speak out during DHS community hearings on S-Comm, and at other local, state and national public events. We urge local and state leaders to join us in declaring S-Comms unsafe for women and children.

ASISTA Immigration Assistance
Break the Chain Campaign
Casa de Esperanza
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum
National Day Laborers Organizing Network
National Domestic Workers Alliance
National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild
National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
Opportunity Agenda
Rights Working Group
STITCH
Third Wave Foundation

Impossible Choices: Observations from the Emergency Abortion Fund

Monday, August 8th, 2011

My name is Marianna Luna and this summer I am interning at the Third Wave Foundation through the RRASC program. The Reproductive Rights Activist Service Corps (RRASC) internship is a ten week internship that places undergraduate students from ten Western Massachusetts colleges at organizations that focus on reproductive rights and social justice. I am currently entering my second year at Hampshire College, and I have recently been introduced to the world of reproductive justice with the help of Civil Liberties and Public Policy program located in Hampshire College’s own campus. This summer I have been running the Emergency Abortion Fund here at Third Wave.

Let me just start by saying exactly why I became interested in reproductive justice. I am a Latina, 18 years old, and queer identified, so as a young woman from a low income area, I have seen and been affected by many things which many people would consider an injustice. I have always worked closely with my community in the Bronx and being a part of a very deprived area I’ve seen what people with no money have had to do in order to feed their families and receive certain “benefits” that other people easily take for granted. Now, I know plenty of women who have had abortions but I was never really able to grasp how difficult a process it was to actually pay for the procedure. Reproductive health affects everybody and so does abortion access, and it took me a while to actually understand why. Reproductive justice is largely affected by and tied to racial, economic, queer, and immigrant rights, as well as many other things; these are all things I feel personally connected to.

Since I’ve been here, I’ve had the opportunity to get an insight on women’s personal stories and talking to a lot of these women has made my frustrations on abortion access even stronger than they were before. All the women who call the fund deserve every penny available for their procedure but unfortunately they don’t get every penny of it. Health insurance doesn’t cover people, other people don’t have any health insurance, some are impoverished, others undocumented immigrants, and some just don’t have anything and found out too late and have to pay thousands of dollars for a procedure that they can only cover $100 of. The abortion fund helps alleviate some of the costs which is essential at this time because there are more and more attacks on reproductive health everyday. I do however believe that funds do not solve the structural problems with abortion access.

Funds are band aids on a cut and though I do believe that they are helpful, they can’t help everybody. It’s hard to be on the phone with women you know deserve funds just as much as anybody else but because there is a budget to work around, certain people just can’t be funded. Then you get asked why. Why can’t you fund me? And the answer is almost always the same: because we are looking for women that are further along. Well, to a lot of people that doesn’t make sense. The further along a woman is, the more expensive it is. So why not fund people in their early trimesters rather than their late trimesters? I don’t even have an answer for this, though I do understand why people further along are prioritized. Somebody who is 25 weeks can have to pay up to eight thousand dollars if not more for their procedure while somebody who is 10 weeks or less may only have to pay $600. For me personally $600 is a lot and I can imagine that it is a lot to other people who may only have about $50 for their procedure. See, it’s not easy coming up with reasons because the truth is, that we shouldn’t be coming up with reasons, these women should have their abortions covered by their insurance and if women don’t have insurance (though this is another issue around healthcare), they should not be turned away because of costs, and be forced into carrying their fetus to full term.