Archive for the ‘Immigration’ Category

Hace más de una semana, tuvimos nuestro Día Nacional de Acción para la reforma de inmigración y salud. Nuestro grupo en Texas tubo un evento y esta es la experiencia de una de las líderes.

Red de Abogacía de Latinas de Texas
“Apoyando la eliminación de la prohibición de los 5 años y que las opciones de servicios de salud para los aspirantes a ciudadanos sean mejoradas”


2 de Mayo del 2013 – Día Nacional de Acción – Gracias al departamento de Relaciones Políticas de la Red de Abogacía de Latinas de Texas pudimos contactar a las dos Directoras Regionales del Sureste de Texas de los Senadores Ted Cruz y John Cornyn. Hablamos con Ana García (Southwest Texas Regional Director & Community Outreach Advisor – Senator John Cornyn) y Casandra Garcia (Southwest Texas Regional Director – Senator Ted Cruz).

Fue una maravillosa experiencia puesto que estas dos directoras estuvieron muy impactadas al recibir cerca de 300 cartas de peticiones en donde se les pide el apoyo para la eliminación de la prohibición de los 5 años. Tambien pedimos que las opciones de servicios de salud para los aspirantes a ciudadanos sean mejoradas.
9 líderes conversamos con cada una de las directoras regionales por separado. El Senador Cruz aún no tiene oficina aquí en el Valle de Texas de Rio Grande entonces hablamos con Casandra Garcia en un restaurante. Una de nuestras líderes que vino a las visitas compartió con las directoras parte de su experiencia de ser deportada con su esposo a México. Por esto le secuestraron a su esposo y finalmente falleció. Las directoras quedaron muy impresionadas con su historia y prometieron apoyar la reforma migratoria y la salud de nuestras comunidades.

Fue un evento muy lindo y seguirmos luchando por la salud, dignidad y justicia de nuestra communidad!

Vives en Texas y quieres unirte a nosotros? Llama a la Coordinadora de la RAL de Texas Lucy C. Félix al (956) 579-1371 ó al correo electrónico: lucy@latinainstitute.org.



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Yesterday we said our good-byes to a great singer-songwriter, actress, producer, entrepreneur and legend, La Diva de la Banda, La Gran Señora, Dolores Janney Rivera also known as Jenni Rivera.

Jenni wasn’t always a celebrity. Her story is one of struggle and perseverance. Rivera’s parents migrated to the United States from Mexico, just like many parents, looking for a better life. Rivera was born in California to a tight-knit family filled with musical talent. She was a great student and became pregnant at the age of 15. With the push of her counselors, she continued her education while pregnant and received her GED, graduating as valedictorian of her class. Jenni Rivera earned her college degree in business administration, proving many wrong, that young Latina mothers never make it to college. However, that wasn’t the end of it.

Rivera made her first recording in the 1990’s and was signed later on, becoming one of the few women leading in the banda and norteña music genre, usually dominated by men, selling over 15 million albums worldwide and starting many companies which sold cosmetics, perfumes, clothing and much more. While Rivera’s career took off the ground, her personal life was filled with pain.

Rivera suffered domestic violence at the hands of her first husband, but that didn’t stop her. She gathered enough strength to leave this marriage and became a spokesperson for the National Coalition against Domestic Violence in Los Angeles. Rivera’s music was a source of inspiration to many women who like her, were victims of abuse and didn’t always have the strength to leave. Her music and her story motivated many women to come forward and seek help knowing there was light at the end of the tunnel. After another failed marriage, Rivera only became more passionate and determined to provide for herself and her family, now a mother of five and an inspiration to women everywhere. Rivera was unafraid, always spoke her mind and overcame every obstacle while still having a smile on her face.

Jenni Rivera onstage during the 11th annual Latin GRAMMY Awards at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on November 11, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Jenni Rivera onstage during the 11th annual Latin GRAMMY Awards at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on November 11, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Her work didn’t just stop at domestic violence, Rivera joined immigrant rights activists in Arizona after the racist show-me-your-papers law known as SB1070 became a reality. Rivera performed at the Billboard Awards dressed in purple on spirit day to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community. She was a fierce advocate for equality and justice for all people. She challenged mainstream body images and beauty expectations. Her work and her legacy will live on in the hearts and souls of many.

Rivera’s life is a testament of how poderosas we really are while facing violence, racism, inequality and any other blow life has for us. Her work has shown me why it’s important to speak out when things are wrong and to continue to push for spaces where Latinas are leading. It’s important to have a space to turn to that will accept us with open arms and offer support, while being surrounded by others with shared experiences; I’m glad to have the Latina Institute.

Jenni, ayer soltamos mariposas para ti, just how you asked in one of your songs. Thank you for staying true to your roots, your fans and never forgetting where you came from. Thank you for elevating the voices of women everywhere. Thank you for setting a standard on how we deserve to be treated. You are my personal inspiration and I hope to channel your strength into my every day life. May you rest in power. Que descanses en poder.

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This past election cycle, we saw the power a government-issued ID can give an individual.   In states where voter ID laws were being enforced, individuals who did not have government IDs could not exercise their right to vote.  Several communities were impacted: transgender people, Latinos, African Americans, students, the elderly, people with disabilities – in short, many, many people. These ID laws harken to Jim Crow-era poll taxes and “literacy tests,”  and at the same time increased the impact of fear tactics used to intimidate voters from going to the polls, exacerbating the historic and current inequities that many communities of color face. (more…)

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a woman, with the text: I am undocuqueer. "As an undocumented jota I was taught to hate myself but I have consciously struggled to love me. Me siento libre!" - Imelda

Undocuqueer art by Julio Salgado

Today is National Coming Out Day, and though this day is usually reserved for coming out as LGBTQ, I want to complicate that and honor the undocuqueers, who are complicating the nationwide picture of LGBTQ people and that of immigrants:

We are queer undocumented youth. We cannot afford to be in either the queer or undocumented closet. We cannot and will not hide; we cannot and will not let those who haven’t been in our shoes decide and tell us how to act, how to feel and that this isn’t our home. We have the right to be whoever we want to be and love whoever we want to love. It is a shame that the only path we have to legalization is to lead a heterosexual lifestyle. We shouldn’t and won’t conform to such ideas. We have a right to live and love to the full extent of our capacity.

We urge you to come out! Now is the time to come and proclaim that you’re UndocuQueer, Unafraid and Unashamed!

Of course, the existence of people inhabiting these two spheres is not new: immigrants have always been part of the struggle for queer and trans liberation, as queer and trans folk have long contributed to immigrants’ rights and racial justice movements. But bringing together immigration and queerness under the “coming  out” umbrella has been a refreshing and beautiful addition to the national conversation. In a political context in which the notion of coming out has in many ways moved away from the beginning of a larger conversation about social justice and towards the individual achievement of “normal” gayness, lending the notion of coming out to the undocumented experience adds nuance and reminds us that queer liberation is inextricably tied to the liberation of all marginalized communities.

So this coming out day, I am honoring the undocuqueers and all the queer and trans folks out there reminding us not only that there is no queer liberation without collective liberation, but that it is indeed possible. ¡Adelante!

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We’ve been following the case of Juana Villegas since the beginning. Just over a week after she gave birth, shackled, while in in jail due to her immigration status, we covered it here on Nuestra Vida, Nuestra Voz as an all-too-real example of the ways that immigration enforcement tactics hurt immigrant women and families. Shortly afterward, the New York Times covered Juana’s story, and it became a prominent if all-too-common reminder of the importance of considering gender in immigration advocacy.

I am incredibly happy to hear that last week, a judge in Nashville awarded Juana $1.1 milion to cover her attorney’s fees and other expenses during the three-year ordeal of lawsuits and appeals. Most importantly, the judge also certified a U-visa – a visa category that is available to undocumented victims of crime who may fear reporting them for fear of deportation. While this certainly does not represent justice – in a just world, this would never have happened in the first place – it is certainly positive that a court has recognized that Juana’s rights have been violated.

Of course, this is just one of many cases, most of which never make it to the media’s attention. With immigration enforcement programs such as Secure Communities taking hold across the U.S. and states taking immigration enforcement into their own hands, there is still much work to do.

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Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit published an opinion regarding self-induced abortions.  Idaho mother Jennie McCormack was charged with committing an “unlawful abortion” when she terminated her pregnancy by ordering RU-486 over the web.  McCormack is a single mother of three, was raised as a devout Mormon, and was barely scrapping by.  An abortion would have cost at least $500 and involved multiple trips to a clinic hours away, so she turned to the Internet.  As a result of deciding what was best for her family, she was prosecuted in Idaho under a myriad of laws that included a pre Roe law that criminalized women getting abortions and another that criminalized individuals other than physicians for performing abortions, and during her case, the prosecutor stated that “he was aghast at the idea that McCormack, an unmarried mother of three, was irresponsibly and repeatedly getting pregnant and not ‘protecting the fetus.’”

The Court of Appeals upheld the U.S. District Court for Idaho’s decision that McCormack could not be prosecuted because she was likely to succeed on her constitutional argument that Idaho’s criminal abortion laws enabled the prosecution and incarceration of women who have abortions.  The Court relied heavily on the arguments that McCormack’s attorney and the National Advocates for Pregnant Women and their allies made in issuing their ruling.  The Court ruled that women cannot be charged under “physician only” criminal statutes regarding abortion even if the law does not specifically say so, stating, “[T]here is no Supreme Court precedent that recognizes or suggests that third party criminal liability may extend to pregnant women who obtain an abortion in a manner inconsistent with state abortion statutes.”  Additionally, the Court emphasized the herculean obstacles that low-income women confront when accessing an abortion such as lack of providers, financial barriers, and harassment at clinics, and the medical, moral, and ethical factors women must weigh when making decisions about pregnancies.

The Latina Institute is thrilled that National Advocates for Pregnant Women and their partners, particularly McCormack’s attorney, successfully defeated Idaho’s attempt to criminalize women who are making wise decisions for their families.  However, as advocates for women’s health, including the right and access to have a safe abortion, we know that there will be other cases like this one.  In the future, it may be a Latina who is prosecuted under these laws.  Due to issues such as cultural and linguistic competency, geographic location, transportation, income, and lack of information, Latina women and others may turn to self-induced abortions.  In fact, we know that Latinas have needed to self induce abortions for the reasons stated above.   The laws on the books need to realistically support and protect the decisions women make about their pregnancies.  We don’t need laws that further erode, humiliate, and deny women the ability to make the right choices for themselves and their families.

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After various conference calls, meetings and emails, our annual Week of Action took place from August 6-10 with the theme Soy Poderosa. Activists from all over the country took pictures of themselves with our poderosa signs filled with messages of strength, support and love. There were events held in various areas of the country to advocate for the reproductive health and justice of Latinas.

Activist says why she is a poderosa

Ms. New York says why she is a poderosa

We were able to reach thousands of poderosas through our blog, Facebook, twitter and email lists as well as through our Latina Advocacy Networks, who tabled and hosted several health fairs in different parts of their states. Latinas are fired up and willing to continue pressuring their governors until the Affordable Care Act is implemented in their states. Latinas will keep educating the community and providing support to Latinas all around the United States, like these activists in Texas who held over 5 health fairs in different areas.

Activists in Texas hold health fairs

Karen Guzman, our policy intern, at a briefing in DC

Actions like the ones that took place during this Week of Action are important in order to highlight the stories of those most affected by the lack of health resources. Many times, we drown in reproductive health statistics without realizing that these numbers are actual people, someone’s mother, daughter, sister or aunt. It is important to take back our stories and own our struggles. By telling sharing those struggles, we build a sense of community and unity with others who may not know you, but share your same values and ideas. It is important, not only to share our stories but to know our rights as well. Adahelia, one of our activists from New York, shares similar ideas, and has the following message for Latinas everywhere:

“Know your rights, all of them, from human, woman, immigrant, resident to citizen rights. Remember that being ignorant limits you and the decisions you make in regards to the different aspects of your entire life, not just your physical and emotional health. We must take responsibility over our own body and knowing our rights will have a huge impact on our lives. When we are educated and informed, it does not only affect us, but it also impacts the lives of our family, friends, partners and children.”

We want to thank all the poderosas who took part in our Week of Action by sending pictures, flyering on campus or simply writing a blog post, your courage and dedication is what keeps us motivated. Even though the Week of Action is over, the energy and need for relief is still present. We hope you can join us and be a part of the actions that are happening next. To stay up to date visit our website and sign up for updates.

In the struggle,

The NLIRH Community Mobilization Team

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