Panel Discussion – Immigrant Rights are Reproductive Rights
On May 31, the Massachusetts Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund is hosting a panel discussion entitled “Immigrant Rights are Reproductive Rights.” As the Massachusetts State House prepares for public hearings on the Safe Communities Act on June 9, the timing of this panel couldn’t be more significant. Every day, stories pour in about people who are scared to obtain medical care because of their immigration status or the immigration status of family members. In Los Angeles 1 , reports of sexual assault are down 25% in Latino communities; domestic violence reports are down 10%. The key word is “report” – there is no indication that sexual assault and domestic violence has suddenly declined – just that people are afraid to contact the police.
As the Trump White House has shown us time and time again, there is good reason to be afraid. When the Department of Homeland Security created the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) office, ostensibly to assist victims of crimes committed by immigrants, it also created a Victim Information and Notification Exchange database with immigrant custody status and detention information. This database also includes undocumented immigrants in detention who are not guilty of any crime other than lacking legal status, including victims of abuse 2 . The database basically offers a tool for abusers and traffickers to easily locate their victims. The issue does not stop there; the database includes the names of children as young as three. While ICE has publicly acknowledged these issues, and has removed some names, problems persist. The intersects between immigration rights and reproductive justice have never been clearer and, thanks to ICE’s rush to create an unnecessary database and sheer incompetence, have been pushed under the national spotlight.
The May 31 panel will include speakers from the Massachusetts Immigrant Refugee Advocacy (MIRA), the Pioneer Valley Workers Center and other groups, and will be followed by break-out sessions on various topics. One area of focus will be action that can be taken in Massachusetts to fight off the federal government’s fear-based tactics, and the Safe Communities Act (SCA) is at the top of that list.
The SCA (SD 1596/HD3052), sponsored by Sen. Jamie Eldridge, would prohibit state collaboration to create a Muslim registry, ensure basic due process rights, use police resources to fight crimes (not separate families) and prohibit agreements between the Department of Homeland Security and local officers. 3 It is a simple bill that does little more than reinforce the basic civil rights of Massachusetts residents but it has generated a lot of push-back because of xenophobic fears. It is, therefore, essential that supporters fill the chambers on June 9 to provide testimony, rally in front of the State House and lobby in support of this bill. The “Immigrant Rights are Reproductive Rights” panel is the ideal place to learn more about how we can protect our communities and connect with activists from across the state. The Federal government is moving fast to enact its White Supremacist agenda; we must respond with equal rapidity, diligence and passion to fight back.
Immigrant Rights are Human Rights, Gateway City Arts, Holyoke, MA, May 31, 6-8 pm.
Safe Community Act Hearings, State House, Boston, MA, June 9, 10 am-3 pm.
For more information, visit: http://bit.ly/2qCrIV2
By Lindsay N. Sabadosa
1 http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me- ln-immigrant- crime-reporting- drops-20170321- story.html
2 http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/05/immigrant-domestic- violence-victims- appear-dhs- database
3 https://www.afsc.org/action/support-safe- communities-act- ma