How Arizona’s New Anti-Immigrant Bills Target Women

NLIRH Policy Director Elizabeth Barajas-Román was quoted in Colorlines regarding how Arizona’s newest, most sweeping bill, SB 1611, would impact undocumented Latinas.

Last summer, when SB 1070 looked to me like the most inhumane, racist, hypocritical ka ka Arizona nativists could produce, I met a first-generation Haitian-American military servicewoman from Arizona who supported the bill. In a husky voice still laced with her family’s Kreyol, she insisted that SB 1070 was the only way to stop Mexican drug cartels from taking over Arizona. Besides protecting innocent Americans, she argued, 1070 would help police find and rescue Latinas who had been smuggled across the border and pressed into sex slavery. By design, she said, tough immigration laws protect women and children.

I’d love to know what homegirl thinks now.

As Julianne Hing reported yesterday, Dr. Evil state senate president Russel Pearce (R-Mesa) and his allies have advanced a suite of bills that, if passed, would:

Revoke citizenship for U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants
Deny kids K-12 education if their moms and dads can’t produce a U.S. birth certificate or naturalization papers
Force hospital workers to confirm immigration status before they provide non-emergency care—including prenatal care
Make it illegal for undocumented immigrants to drive and allow the state to confiscate their cars
Shut down businesses that don’t run their employees through the federal E-Verify database
Ban tuition-paying, undocumented women and men from community colleges and state universities
Force state social service workers to deny—and, and in some cases, report—undocumented immigrant women seeking WIC and shelter from domestic violence.

And the list goes on.

Overwhelmed by this blitzkrieg of anti-brown legislation, I spent the greater part of yesterday trying to pinpoint how SB 1611, the newest, most sweeping bill, would impact Arizona’s undocumented Latinas. Elizabeth Barajas-Román, policy director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, gamely answered my questions, via email. (I condensed her answers; some are pasted below.)

But ultimately, I don’t know how anyone can predict how the substance and tone of these explosive bills will endanger the lives of brown women and girls in the powderkeg state of Arizona (See: Brisenia Flores.) God only knows what’s next.

Key points from Elizabeth Barajas-Román:

“It is widely known that anti-immigration laws create a culture of fear in Latino communities. SB 1611 creates a whole new set of barriers to education. Educational attainment is one way that Latinas can have access to information, resources and services that will help them make informed and autonomous decisions about their health care.”
“[Undocumented] female immigrants are already forced to work in industries that are undervalued, underpaid and hazardous to their health.They often lack basic worker protections and health and unemployment benefits. SB 1611 would force them into the shadows even more.”
“We know that many immigrants don’t access the health care they are eligible for because [they fear anti-immigrant sentiment]; they’re confused over eligibility rules, the face language barriers, and they fear of losing a day’s wages. SB 1611 could make things worse.”
“Mental health issues also come into play. Constant experiences with racism and intolerance can cause stress and trigger depression.”

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