What’s the Real Problem? Negative Rhetoric Fueling Attacks on Immigrant Women


This is part of the Latina Week of Action 2011 blog conversation debating the real problem concerning the scapegoating of immigrant women.

The struggle for social justice is the struggle to achieve equal access to opportunity for everyone.  Reproductive and health rights must be placed within this broader social justice context.  In the U.S., women and youth are too often denied essential reproductive health, education and services.  Many laws, policies, and social ideas have worked to limit women’s reproductive freedoms.  While such actions impact all women, they fall especially hard on those who are poor, of color, or immigrants.

One thing that impacts these struggles is the way in which we talk about disenfranchised or marginalized populations. If we use language that demonizes them, it impacts our policies and people’s lives.

Latina immigrants have been portrayed in the media and by the general public as threatening criminal breeders who only have children as a means to gain citizenship.  Words like “anchor baby” or “illegal alien” only serve to reinforce these negative opinions. This language impacts policy and public opinion.

This rhetoric, whether spewed during hate speech or in a media article, perpetuates certain ideas about immigrants. It’s no coincidence this rhetoric has increased alongside bills that would deny U.S. citizenship to children born in the U.S. to undocumented parents or to parents who are in the U.S. on temporary visas.

What’s the real problem? The negative rhetoric that is fueling attacks on the reproductive freedoms of immigrant women. Join campaigns like the Applied Research Center’s Drop the I word to push back on this discriminatory rhetoric.

By Megan Donahue, NLIRH DC Policy Intern, supported by the Civil Liberties and Public Policy program

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  • satinka

    Patriarchal Cultures are violence-based. Women do many things to escape from one oppressive environment and right into another oppressive environment.  Canada included. Religion enables the oppression because women are told that to obey their husband is to obey God/Allah/Whoever which tells women they have no choice. Or at least they BELIEVE they have no choice. As long as patriarchies exist, abuse will continue until morale of women improves — and it can’t. As long as patriarchies exist, women will continue to be oppressed.

    Men and women have been trained by centuries of patriarchal conditioning. Men must be macho and women must be submissive. So much so that many women commit violence against other women in the name of God/Allah/Whoever. Women are conditioned to be subservient. In centuries past they have been murdered and burned at the stake for speaking their minds and saying no to oppression. Conditioning.

    The way it stands, men and women cannot even feel intimacy because men who have been conditioned by porn only know how to think about their own needs and wants, which includes violence. Societal Holy Books tell men that the women are property and therefore are disposable if the women do not serve them.

    Laws and rules about political correctness are a deterrent to dialogue. People don’t discuss the subject out of fear. It is time to let go of the fear and speak and ask questions and get answers about other cultures and belief systems. The truth must become known and healthy action can be taken to heal the rift between men and women. Men and women must come into balance before oppression will stop.