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Getting to the root of the “real” problem why immigrant women are scapegoats for today’s politicians

LatinaLista — A question posed this week by the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health in their annual blog carnival strives to get to the heart of the immigration problem in a way that Congress has no appetite for doing by asking — “What’s the real problem?”

Specifically, the question is why immigrant women have been scapegoated and targeted in the recent political climate.


It’s a question that deserves national attention at a time when immigrant mothers are viewed as common criminals only because of a lack of papers, though they are guilty of nothing more than doing everything in their power to provide, protect and advance their children’s health, safety and future — as all mothers do.

There’s something wrong with a system of “justice” that take an immigrant woman, who is in the country illegally, into custody after she herself calls the police for help from an abuser. To add unspeakable insult to injury is when the abuser is allowed to remain free while the woman is torn from her family and thrown into jail to wait to be deported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers.

It was and remains a problem though it’s now been specifically addressed by Homeland Security as a directive to halt the practice.

The debate over the rights of undocumented immigrants in this country has been a sobering exercise in seeing where the needle stands on the nation’s moral compass and begs the question “What’s the real problem?”

Is the real problem the hysterical rhetoric that paints immigrants with a broad stroke labeling them terrorists or being responsible for the economic crisis? If so, that line of thinking is so far removed from reality that it will always be impossible to reason with such irrationality.

Is the real problem that not enough Americans know immigrants? Could be. I once challenged a young South Carolina journalist who chose to repeat in her article as fact all the vile and untruthful things people who didn’t like Mexicans moving into their community were telling her that they did. When I asked her if she went into the areas where the immigrants were, she confessed she had not. When I asked her how many Latinos she had as friends, she admitted she had never personally socialized with a Latino or a Latina.

Is the real problem the fact that immigrant women are easy targets? Yes! By virtue of being women and mothers, it’s assumed, and most of the time rightly so, that women won’t speak up or protest because they want to protect their children or their extended family. The concept that a mother/woman would sacrifice her own well-being for her family is proven every day among immigrant households.

Yet, the real problem may lie with a question too many are afraid to ask: Do Americans really care what happens to immigrant women? I would say yes and no. No, when all immigrants are bundled together into a neat package and given all the same labels: trespasser, law-breaker, terrorist, etc.

But when that neat bundle is untied and people hear the individual stories, see their faces and feel their hardships or injustices inflicted upon them as a result of anti-immigrant hysteria, it’s harder for the rational person to deny that immigrants are human too.

This week is the Latina Week of Action for Reproductive Justice’s blog carnival where bloggers from throughout the blogosphere will be answering the question “What’s the real problem?” and participating in a series of call to actions.

The blog carnival is open to any blogger who would like to share their feelings about the answer to the question — it’s one way to get more to care about a problem that isn’t going away any time soon.




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