Commentary Race

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


What's the real problem? The negative rhetoric that is fueling attacks on the reproductive freedoms of 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.

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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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