Latina health advocates urge humane leadership by the Obama administration and Congress on immigration and Central American refugee crisis
Latinas press humanitarian response over mistreatment of women and children migrants and increased border militarization
(Washington, D.C. ) – Last week, President Obama requested $3.7 billion in supplemental funding from Congress to address the Central American crisis, which is forcing tens of thousands of children and women to flee extreme violence and poverty in their home countries and seek protection in the United States. While the president’s request includes $1.8 billion for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), many of the remaining funds will be utilized for “deterrence,” and increased detention, surveillance and border militarization.
The president’s request comes after the administration’s decisions to re-open family detention in Artesia, New Mexico and to pursue Administrative reforms in light of Congress’ failure to move immigration reform this year. Jessica González-Rojas, executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) has issued the following statement in response to these developments:
“While we applaud President Obama’s statements of commitment to pursue Administrative reforms through the use of executive powers, we are deeply troubled by aspects of this administration’s handling of the Central American refugee crisis. Women and children are fleeing gang violence, gender-based violence, economic dislocation, and are seeking refuge in the United States; yet this administration and members of Congress continue to prioritize inhumane enforcement methods and border militarization over the health and human rights of women and children.
“We are deeply troubled with the administration’s decision to re-open family detention in Artesia, New Mexico. ICE’s track record on family detention is abysmal. We call on the administration to utilize alternatives to detention, specifically community-based supervisory programs, which are better equipped to meet the needs of unaccompanied minors and women.
“And while we welcome increased resources to HHS to provide humane care to migrants, the president’s $3.7 billion budget request continues to prioritize enforcement over human rights and long-term solutions. We press the administration to guarantee due process and meet U.S. obligations under international law, by ensuring migrants have full and fair hearings by immigration judges, legal representation, and access to the asylum process. Moreover, we call for full access to comprehensive medical care, including maternal and reproductive health care for women, for all migrants, including those who have fled domestic violence, sexual assault and other abuses.”
The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health is the only national reproductive justice organization dedicated to building Latina power to advance health, dignity, and justice for 26 million Latinas, their families, and communities in the United States through leadership development, community mobilization, policy advocacy, and strategic communications.