Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

It was by a fluke of timing that the We Belong Together delegation was in Georgia speaking out against that state’s SB 1070 copycat legislation on the same day that neighboring Alabama announced that large parts of its copycat legislation survived a legal challenge. But now that parts of Alabama’s strict immigration law have been upheld, the countdown towards implementation begins. In other words, the time has come for the wave of fear that has been building across the country to come crashing over Alabama’s growing immigrant population.

And this fear is warranted:  on its face, the law aims to lock up immigrants or drive them out of the country, or at least the state. Short of driving the immigrant population out, the law may effectively drive immigrants into the factories and the fields as it tries to ensure that they are uneducated, impoverished, and easily exploitable. As the We Belong Together delegation highlighted, Arizona’s concerns have become those of Georgia, and it is now clear that these concerns are very real in Alabama, too.


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By Candace Gibson, Legal Intern

Although I’m just a law student, when I read Representative Lamar Smith’s Keep Our Communities Safe Act I got the overwhelming sense that he wants to keep immigrants who are in detention detained a lot longer.  In Rep. Smith’s opening statement to the House Judiciary Committee which he chairs, he states that his bill “provides a statutory basis for DHS to detain as long as necessary specified dangerous immigrants who cannot be removed.”  He also indiscriminately swaps the term “immigrants” for “criminal immigrants” and “dangerous criminal immigrants.”  His opening statement is just another example of the rhetoric that we have discussed which blurs immigration law with criminal law.

In the actual legislation, its stated purpose is:

To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to provide for extensions of detention of certain aliens ordered removed, and for other purposes.

In only one place in the legislation does he exactly describe undocumented immigrants with the adjectives, “dangerous” and “criminal”, and it’s in a section heading.  Once again, we are seeing how policymakers such as Rep. Smith would like to throw the majority of immigrants, which include legal permanent residents, refugees, and asylees, under the bus to go after the annually released 4,000 “dangerous criminal immigrants” he alludes to in his statement.  According to ICE’s Secure Communities’ 2011 First Quarter Report to Congress:

[They] removed nearly 42,900 criminal aliens, which is more than 54.2 percent of all ICE removals. Nearly 34.1 percent of all ICE criminal alien removals were of Level 1 offenders. Level 1 offenses included threats to national security; violent crimes such as murder, manslaughter, rape, robbery, and kidnapping; and drug offenses resulting in sentences greater than 1 year.

It seems that ICE is perfectly capable and will continue to do its job without the help of Rep. Smith.

This is what we ca look forward to if Rep. Smith’s bill is enacted:


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The November 2010 election was a mixed result for Latinas and reproductive health, but one message came through: Latino/as are a powerful and active voting bloc. Unfortunately, the new leadership in the House of Representatives have indicated their intent to drastically limit access and affordability of abortions, and have also taken aim at the health care reform law. But with progressive strongholds elected in California and other allies nationwide, opportunities do exist to continue reform focused on those most in need. The issue of reproductive health, contrary to the opposition of many conservatives, is paramount to women’s health.

Join us for a virtual cafecito as we discuss the challenges and opportunities the 112th Congress presents to those of us fighting for reproductive justice.

Rebecca Medina, Policy Analyst, will present analysis on the 112th Congress from a Latina reproductive justice perspective.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011
1:00pm EST – English
2:00pm EST – Spanish

To view our Election Report, Election 2010: Reproductive Justice, Latinas and the 112th Congress, please click here.

RSVP to Yasmine Rodulfo at Yasmine@latinainstitute.org

You will receive the call-in information when we confirm your RSVP via e-mail.

Te invitamos a un Cafecito Virtual: La Justicia Reproductiva, las Latinas y la 112ª Sesión del Congreso de los EE.UU.

La elección de noviembre del 2010, arrojó una mezcla de resultados para las Latinas y la salud reproductiva, pero un mensaje fuerte surgió: Las Latinas y los Latinos representan un bloque de votantes poderoso y activo. Desafortunadamente, el nuevo liderazgo en la Casa de los Representantes ha manifestado la intención de limitar drásticamente el acceso a los abortos, incluso a través del costo, y también tienen puesta su atención en la ley de la reforma del sistema de salud. Aún así, con las victorias electorales en los distritos progresistas y fuertes en California y otros aliados a nivel nacional, sí existen las oportunidades para continuar una reforma enfocada en aquellas personas que más lo necesitan. El asunto de la salud reproductiva, contrariamente a la oposición de muchos conservadores, es crucial para la salud de las mujeres.

Acompáñanos a un cafecito virtual en el cual discutiremos los retos y las oportunidades que la 112. ª Sesión del Congreso presenta a aquellas(os) de nosotras(os) que luchamos por la justicia reproductiva. Rebeca Medina, Analista de Políticas, presentará un análisis de la 112ª Sesión desde una perspectiva de la justicia reproductiva de las Latinas.

Miércoles, 2 de febrero
1:00 p.m. Hora de la Costa Este – en inglés
2:00 p.m. Hora de la Costa Este – en español

Para ver el resumen ejecutivo del reporte de las elecciones “Las Elecciones del 2010, la Justicia Reproductiva, las Latinas y la 112. ª Sesión del Congreso de los EE.UU.”, por favor oprima aquí.

RSVP a Yasmine Rudulfo en el correo electrónico: Yasmine@latinainstitute.org

Usted recibirá la información para la llamada cuando confirmemos su RSVP vía correo electrónico.

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By Hilarie Myers, Communications and Development Intern

The nation is still reeling in the aftermath of last Saturday’s shooting rampage in Tucson, which left 6 people dead and 18 people, including Congresswomen Giffords (D, AZ-8), seriously injured.

The response of politicians, pundits, and other public figures has been varied, ranging from Sarah Palin’s highly criticized speech, in which she defended her own behavior and political rhetoric, to President Barack Obama’s well-received memorial address, in which he emphasized the need for civility and compassion.

The general public’s response to the shootings has also been divided: On one hand, the Community Food Bank of Tucson, Arizona, one of Rep. Giffords’s favorite charities, received over $18,000 in donations in the first seven hours after her husband referred to the organization in a statement on the shooting.  On the other hand, Timothy Williams of the New York Times reports that firearms sales in Arizona have drastically increased over the last few days, most likely due to fears that Saturday’s shootings will result in a push for stricter gun control laws.

In Congress, reactions to the events in Tucson have been just as varied, particularly on the subject of gun control.  Since the shooting, there has been a recent outpouring of support for stricter gun control laws, with a particular emphasis on the need to introduce legislation to ban extended-round ammunition clips, such as those used by shooter Jared Loughner in Tucson.


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The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) offers our deepest condolences and solidarity to the families and victims of the assassination attempt on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (AZ-8).

Congresswoman Giffords and 19 others were shot Saturday outside a Tucson grocery store during her first event in district after being sworn into her third term. Six people are confirmed dead and Giffords is fighting for her life.  Amongst those confirmed dead is Federal Judge John Roll, Rep. Gifford’s Director of Community Outreach, Gabe Zimmerman and a nine-year-old child.

We echo Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik’s remarks when he blamed the violence on the toxic political culture fueled by partisan media.

“We have become the Mecca of prejudice and bigotry,” he said after describing the shooter as an unbalanced person who could be easily influenced by vitriol spewed by pundits.

Giffords won another term in a narrow victory that reflected a tough campaign against the 29-year-old Marine Veteran Jesse Kelly (R).  Congresswoman Giffords stood by women’s rights and also approached immigration in a nuanced fashion. Because her district borders Mexico she was concerned about the impact of drug smuggling violence and therefore requested additional border security from both the Bush and Obama Administrations.  However, she also called for increased work visas and was a vocal opponent of SB1070, a state law that requires law enforcement to conduct racial profiling.

As a social justice organization NLIRH condemns all senseless violence, especially against women and children, as a threat to our democracy and freedom.

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Despite a devastating loss on the DREAM (the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health applauds the Senate’s 65-31 vote on Saturday to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT).  DADT is the law that forces LGBT military members to hide their sexuality at the risk of losing their careers.

Latinas have been devastated under DADT because women and racial minorities are particularly vulnerable under the law. Although women make up only 14% of the Army, for example, women received 46% of the Army’s DADT discharges in FY 2009. And while 20% of Air Force personnel are women, almost half of its discharges under the policy last year were women. These trends are similarly disproportionate for racial minorities.

We join activists in celebrating this bittersweet victory while continuing to work toward the day when human rights and justice will be within reach for all who call the U.S. home.

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We’re happy to report that the The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment (CAPTA) Reauthorization Act of 2010 passed both the House and Senate last week. It is critical in the fight against child abuse and neglect.  This Act reauthorizes CAPTA through FY2015 and enacts important revisions that, as the White House stated, will “strengthen child protective services and continue life-saving programs for victims of domestic violence.”  Senator Harkin, a co-sponsor and champion of the bill, stated that “incidents of child abuse are on the rise… and this disturbing trend must be reversed immediately.”

The bill directs the Secretary to award grants for two national resource centers, at least seven special issue resource centers, a National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, and specialized services for abused parents and their children.

Other highlights of CAPTA reauthorization include:

  • Reauthorization of the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (which is the only federal funding source dedicated to domestic violence services and shelters), the Adoption Opportunities Act, and the Abandoned Infants Assistance Act;
  • Emphasis on the need to develop the use of research-based strategies;
  • Enhancement of the general child protective system;
  • Provision of services to children that have been exposed to domestic violence; and
  • Improved training on prevention of violence against children.

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A street full of storefronts. On the second floor there is a large advertisement that says "Unplanned Pregnancy?" and a phone number.

Photo Credit: New York Times


On Tuesday, October 12, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health announced its support for a piece of legislation in New York City that would require crisis pregnancy centers, or limited-service pregnancy centers, to disclose on all signage and advertising that they do not provide contraception or abortion services, or referrals to either.  The legislation would also require the centers to disclose if they do not have a licensed medical provider on site, and would hold them to the same confidentiality standards as licensed medical centers.

Crisis pregnancy centers are often innocuously labeled: “Pregnant?  Need Help?”  What many of these signs do not say is that these centers have an explicit anti-choice agenda, and often spread misinformation about abortion, such as the outdated and clinically-disproved claim that abortion increases risk of breast cancer.  The bill follows an investigation by NARAL Pro-Choice New York, who released a report documenting the tactics of these centers.

NLIRH’s own Senior Policy Analyst, Verónica Bayetti Flores, was interviewed in Spanish by Telemundo regarding this story. Read the story here, or watch here.

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Women holding sign "No mas mujeres muertas por abortion  clandestinos!"By Stephanie Rodriguez, Policy Intern

What happens when you are scared to go to the hospital?

This is the reality for thousands of women in Mexico where abortion is still outlawed in most states. Research from around the world has shown us that in places where abortion is illegal, it still happens, yet women are put at risk by underground procedures and the fear of persecution. This is the exact situation in Mexico.

A recent article in the New York Times highlighted this issue, discussing eight women who were jailed on homicide charges from supposed clandestine abortions. The process is shady at best, when evidence is difficult to find. Yolanda Martinez, one of the woman who was freed from jail after serving 7 years of her 25 year sentence stated; “They accuse you of crimes that you never committed.”

Women are afraid to go to hospitals whenever they are confronted with complications throughout their pregnancy because of these laws. It can be difficult to distinguish between miscarriage and complications from induced abortions, creating a culture of fear for women. From Guttmacher Institute:

Abortions in Mexico take place under unsafe conditions, resulting in serious health consequences for women. Seventeen percent of the Mexican women who obtained abortions in 2006 were treated in public hospitals for complications.

To make a bad situation worse, laws are being put in place to prevent even the idea of legalizing abortions. This is in response to the recent decision by Mexico City to legalize early abortions there.

Women’s safety should be our first priority–not driving them underground to unsafe procedures. We are not in a position where we can have women think twice before going to a hospital. We are not in a position to see more women die because they had no other option.

By Stephanie Rodriguez, Policy Intern

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