How Women Especially Suffer from Arizona's Harsh Anti-Immigrant Law

Alicia’s young daughter suffers from convulsions and must seek medical care as soon as she experiences one. One night, when Alicia was rushing her daughter to the hospital, a police officer pulled her over and questioned her about her immigration status. Despite  pleading to let her get to the hospital with her daughter, the officer would not let her leave  with her car. Fortunately, another woman driving nearby offered to take Alicia and her daughter to the hospital, which the officer arbitrarily permitted.

“It was a matter of life and death,” she said.

Now, Alicia, a resident of Georgia, is too scared to drive and makes her husband take  their daughter to the hospital.

Alicia’s story was one of the three shared by Hispanic women today during a media briefing on the impact the Supreme Court’s SB1070 decision has on women and children. We Belong Together, a collaboration of women’s and immigrant rights groups, hosted the briefing.  The group has collected testimonies of migrant women in Arizona as well as in Alabama and Georgia, where SB1070 copycat laws were passed. They have found numerous cases of racial profiling, family separation and children living in fear.

Ellen Bravo, executive director of Family Values at Work, said that although We Belong Together was glad the Supreme Court struck down several provisions of SB1070, the provision they upheld, at least for the moment, section 2b, “absolutely legitimized racial profiling,” which has detrimental effects on immigrants, especially women.

She said:

Immigrant women have been speaking out about this very courageously, and they are the leading voices for change. Unfortunately they are the very voices that are either silence or ignored in these policy debates … The Court’s decision is a huge setback for women’s rights and civil rights.

Karen Tumlin, managing attorney at the National Immigration Law Center, said that while the provision causes “children to internalize a deep sense of not belonging,” it creates a “chilling effect” for women:

They now live in such a state of fear that they are limiting their activities to only the most essential daily activities, and even then, they are second guessing, ‘Should I go out in public? Am I putting me or my children at risk if I go to a grocery store? If I go to a doctor’s appointment? Even if I seek services when I’ve been a victim of crime and abuse?’

Annamaria, another woman at the briefing, said her friend suffers from domestic violence, but she can’t call anyone for help. As for her family in Alabama, Annamaria said her husband was detained after being pulled over for not wearing his seatbelt.

Amparo, a resident of Arizona, said her husband was also detained and her son interrogated by law enforcement.

“They treat us worse than animals,” she said. Yet, “they have food on their table because of the work that we do.”

Tumlin said that although Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s statement that section 2b is now in effect is spreading throughout the media as fact, the Supreme Court ordered that it cannot take effect for at least 23 days — so any police questioning of Arizona residents is unlawful.

She said she will continue to work with her plaintiffs and community members until these laws are permanently struck down.

“I want to make it clear that this is just the opening round of what will be a very long legal fight in the courtroom.” Several other suits against the law are pending.

AlterNet / By Alyssa Figueroa

Posted at June 27, 2012, 3:10pm

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