Esmeralda: A Transgender Detainee Speaks Out from Breakthrough on Vimeo.
For Esmeralda, being a transgender woman in Mexico was hard enough, but nothing could have prepared her for her experience after being placed in a US detention center. Seeking refuge from the discrimination she had encountered in her homeland, the last place she thought she would encounter the same discrimination was in the very place she was seeking help and compassion. During her time in a US detention center, she was forced to use the washroom in handcuffs, forced to live in isolation without time for recreation, and was forced to perform sexual activities with a male guard. After being treated unjustly for being transgender she started having suicidal thoughts and pleaded to be able to see someone who could help her. After a few months of being ignored and treated inhumanely, she decided to cancel her asylum request and return to Mexico, where life would be better than the harsh circumstances she was facing in the detention center.
Knowing the difficulties and discrimination she would face, Esmeralda found the courage to come back to the US and file for asylum once again. This time she was held in a detention center for men, and frequently feared for her life. However, she was soon granted asylum and now Esmeralda is an advocate for survivors of sexual abuse.
For many women seeking to come to the US in search of a better life for themselves and their family, Esemralda’s story is too familiar. Many women are forced to tolerate verbal and physical abuse and are denied medical attention and visitation rights. These women are sisters, daughters, and mothers forced to be treated inhumanely. We must demand justice for them and countless other who face this brutal reality. Join us in asking congress to restore fairness today!
By Krystal Chan, Development and Communications Intern
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A recent New Yorker article by Atul Gawande has been getting a lot of coverage lately–there are even rumors that Obama has made it required reading for his White House Staff. In the piece, Gawande shares an extensive evaluation of the medical system in McAllen, Texas. We at NLIRH know McAllen well, because it is where for over two years we have been working with the women in the video above, the amazing activists affiliated with La Voz Latina and Migrant Health Promotion.
He started by looking at numbers: “In 2006, Medicare spent fifteen thousand dollars per enrollee here, almost twice the national average.” Gawande asked long standing community doctors why the spending rates of Medicare are so high in this area of Texas. They told him: “There is overutilization here, pure and simple.” There is no evidence that the city provides better quality care than any other city, even with it’s up-to-date medical technology. Actually, the health outcomes are worse. Looking outside the community for help analyzing this “Cost Conundrum,” Gawande solicited Jonathan Skinner, a Dartmouth economist, to analyze why the cost of care was so high in McAllen. Skinner also concluded that is was “very simply, the across-the-board overuse of medicine.”
In his analysis of the medical delivery system in McAllen, Gawande did not address many of the concerns of the women we’ve worked with, some of whom are featured in the video above. We know a large portion of the people in this region are undocumented immigrants from Mexico and other Latin American countries. Even if they have documents, these immigrants do not qualify for federal programs like Medicare for the first five years they are here. So how do these immigrants get health care? Many reportedly cross the border to Mexico if needing medical attention, or some pay out-of-pocket for services in the area.
Gawande may not be talking about these women, but they are doing their own organizing to address the health care gaps in their communities. We’ve collaborated with them on reproductive justice organizing and advocacy, and it’s amazing to see what they are achieving despite all the barriers they face.
Contributed by Robin Mangini, Research Intern
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A great passionate speech from Latina blogger Mamita Mala, about the Latino vote.
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President Bush Threatens to Veto Global Gag Rule
On September 6, 2007 an amendment to the 2008 fiscal year foreign aid appropriations bill repeals Global gag rule, passing by a vote of 53-41 in the Senate. In June, the House of Representatives voted 223-201 for a similar amendment to the 2008 foreign aid appropriations bill in the House.
The Global Gag rule is found in the State-Foreign Appropriations bill and it places limitations on the services and information that foreign NGOs can provide if they accept U.S. financial aid. The Global Gag rule was first passed during the Reagan administration in 1984. President Clinton in 1993 rescinded it but in 2001 President W. Bush restored the rule with an Executive Order.
Specifically the Global Gag rule:
- Prohibits foreign NGOS to use U.S. financial aid to provide legal abortions unless in a case of rape, incest or life endangerment;
- Prohibits the ability of foreign NGOs to give information on what an abortion is and where a woman can get a legal one;
- Prohibits the lobbying efforts of foreign NGOs to legalize abortion, oppose abortion restrictions and/or decriminalize abortion and
- Prohibits foreign NGOs from organizing public awareness campaigns on abortion using U.S. aid OR their own private funds.
Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) co-authored the amendment to the FY2008 foreign-aid bill. However, the Senate also voted to approve Sen. Sam Brownback’s (R-KS) amendment that will allow President Bush, for the sixth year in a row, to rescind funding for the U.N. Population Fund family-planning program.
In the past six years, the global gag rule has created barriers to not only getting an abortion but also in receiving information to make an informed decision about the path of their reproductive health, clearly violating Latina’s human right to decide if and when to bear children under customary law.
Many Latinas in foreign countries rely upon NGOs to provide them with the reproductive health information and services that they need. And because of the dire global economy that we are currently in, foreign NGOs also rely on foreign aid to maintain their facilities. Therefore, the global gag rule does not give NGOs a choice in the services they can provide.
Over the years, the ripple effect of placing restrictions on funding is that many Latinas in foreign country do not know their reproductive and sexual rights and when they emigrate to the U.S. they continue to live under the belief that they do not have the legal right to have an abortion.
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