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Arizona Immigration Law: Women Weigh In

April 28, 2010

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="298" caption="Credit: Monica Almeida/The New York Times"][/caption] As the debate continues over the anti-immigrant bill that Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law last week, which President Obama has openly condemned, women experts are speaking out on the issue – here's a roundup of the latest and greatest. Progressive Women's Voices participant Sally Kohn published a column today in the Christian Science Monitor, comparing the bill to similar (though less harsh) legislation passed in Oklahoma in 2007. The financial and psychological toll of Oklahoma's policies should stand as a warning to Brewer, whose state, Sally writes, suffers from a "culture of fear": "Forty years ago, folks in Arizona and Oklahoma were complaining that the immigrants weren’t Irish or Scandinavian, and Tucson and Oklahoma City were luring kids from the countryside. Change is unavoidable. What we can avoid is reacting with irrational fear and scapegoating and hate." Linda Greenhouse at The New York Times writes that she's glad she's already seen the Grand Canyon, since she's "not going back to Arizona as long as it remains a police state": "Wasn’t the system of internal passports one of the most distasteful features of life in the Soviet Union and apartheid-era South Africa? The intent of the new Arizona law, according to the State Legislature, is 'attrition through enforcement.' Breathing while undocumented, without a civil liberties lawyer at hand, is now a perilous activity anywhere in Arizona." The National Coalition for Immigrant Women’s Rights steering committee, comprised of the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, staunchly oppose the legislation. As Maria Robalino of SEIU points out: "This law will create rampant racial profiling that will be devastating for immigrant women in Arizona. It will re-create the kind of intolerance and hatred that our nation left behind years ago." The Coalition's press release also included recent data on women immigrants:
  • U.S. Census Bureau indicates more than half of all immigrants are women
  • New America Media identified a trend of immigrant women as primary breadwinners and family caretakers
  • 90 percent of Hispanic children in the US are American citizens; 62 percent of Hispanic children in the US have at least one immigrant parent
  • Immigrant women are often the ones to initiate the citizenship process for their families
California State Assembly Member Karen Bass writes at Huffington Post: "As a legislator who has supported efforts to increase public safety, I can't help but oppose a law that aids criminals in getting away with their crimes by pushing victims and witnesses deeper into the shadows. And, yes, rape, murder and domestic violence are worse crimes than crossing the border without the right papers." Watch President and Executive Director of the Applied Research Center – and another Progressive Women's Voices alumna – Rinku Sen on GRITtv discussing the bill, the criminalization of immigrants, and what to do to fight back: Immigration, like all issues that impact the nation at large, is a women's issue. At the Women's Media Center we are active behind the scenes amplifying women’s voices on immigration, including Pramila Jayapal, Executive Director at OneAmerica and Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Executive Director at Voces de la Frontera, as well as Rinku and Sally. Help us change the conversation on immigration – leave a comment with your thoughts, or link to other columns that highlight women, immigrants and Arizona's legislation.