Latina immigrant who was shackled during labor now faces deportation

Juana Villega de la Paz made news this summer when she was detained by a police officers for driving without a license while 9 months pregnant. She was found to have no documents and ended up giving birth with in detention and was treated as a securty threat. She was shackled during parts of her labor, a practice that occurs at jails and prisons around the country but is being actively contested.

Juana was released after the birth of her child and told to report to the authorities each month. She just received news that she will be deported the next time she reports.

This story highlights a number of things: the inhumane way people are treated while incarcerated, the way undocumented immigrants are being treated like they are violent or dangerous criminals and the ahborrent state of our immigration policy.

Juana is currently using legal venues to prevent her deportaiton. She has four American citizen children.


Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape

I have a piece in the new anthology, Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape. My piece is called “When Sexual Autonomy Isn’t Enough: Sexual Violence Against Immigrant Women in the US.”

More about the anthology to come, but if you happen to be in Philly, you should come to our reading tonight! I will be there along with the editors Jessica Valenti and Jaclyn Friedman.

The reading is at Robin’s Bookstore. Come check it out if you’re in town. Also, Robin’s is closing down next month (after 73 years!) so you can visit the store for one of the last times. Robin’s Bookstore, 6pm 108 S. 13th St, Philadelphia PA 19107. Hope to see you!

State Department discriminates against Latino citizens delivered by midwives

Via The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (full disclosure: that’s my day job and I wrote this press release)

The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that some Latino citizens in the Rio Grande Valley on the US/Mexico border are being denied access to their citizenship rights based on documentation issues. Their citizenship is being called into question (despite years of residence and employment in the United States, and even successful background checks) due to their birth to midwives in private residences.

The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health believes this is a racist and unfair practice, which leaves these individuals scrambling to prove citizenship with other documents, where for others a birth certificate is sufficient. This practice unfairly targets Latino citizens on the border and those who were born to parteras or midwives in private residences, a common practice among Latinos. Further, the fact that once additional documentation has been provided some individuals are still being denied makes it clear that the State Department is discriminating against these individuals along the border in Texas.

Join the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health in decrying this discriminatory practice, so we can ensure that all US citizens regardless of race, nationality or place of childbirth are granted access to their rights.

Full press release available here.

Cross-posted at Feministing

International Worker’s Rights Day

It’s May Day. This holiday of sorts has a long history:

At its national convention in Chicago, held in 1884, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions (which later became the American Federation of Labor), proclaimed that “eight hours shall constitute a legal day’s labor from and after May 1, 1886.” The following year, the FOTLU, backed by many Knights of Labor locals, reiterated their proclamation stating that it would be supported by strikes and demonstrations.

In the past few years, because of the seriously anti-immigrant climate, May 1st has been a day for HUGE immigration rallies and marches. This year these marches are happening again, despite some violence on at a rally last year in Los Angeles.

Many people have been reiterating this for a long time, but in light of recent discussions, I want to make it clear: immigration is a feminist issue. It’s a human rights issue. The abuses that have been going on as of late: immigration raids, jails being used as detention centers, families being separated, they matter a lot to me, as the child of immigrants and as a feminist.

So in honor of May Day and the immigration rights movement here is some suggested reading:

The Unapologetic Mexican
Why Immigration is a Matter of Reproductive Justice
An Anti-Trafficking Activist’s Agenda
ACLU Immigrant rights work
WOC PhD has a good post up with events and a video about immigration myths.

This is by no means comprehensive. Please add your links in the comments.

Cross-posted at Feministing

Fire displaces hundreds in Mt. Pleasant

While this is not particularly birth related, it definitely falls into the social justice arena when so many people are affected. Read more about the fire on my post at Feministing and donate some money if you are able.

Pregnant New Mexico Teenager Arrested and Deported

This is ridiculous and just proof that the administration’s haphazard immigration crackdown is ineffective and completely unjust.

U.S. immigration officials deported a pregnant Roswell High School senior after she was pulled from class Wednesday by a local police officer regarding a traffic ticket issued days before.

She was only 18, and who knows what happened to her when she was sent back to Mexico. Frequently these individuals no longer have ties in their country of origin, and this girl’s mother remains in New Mexico. This kind of thing isn’t going to strengthen “security” or immigration enforcement, and it is a blatant violation of human rights. The detention centers that people are sent to while in the process of being deported are often jails that have been “converted” into detention centers.

These kinds of stories just keep coming, along with ones about women who are separated from their infants, many times who suffer from dehydration and complications from the disruption of breastfeeding.

For more information about the immigration justice movement,

Woman gives birth on US/Mexico Border

This story from the Houston Chronicle online reports that a border patrol agent helped a woman give birth on the banks of the Rio Grande River, on the border between Texas and Mexico.

The story is brief, and simply reports that the agent does not know whether the woman and the man accompanying her were undocumented or not, but this is just one example of what immigration in this country has devolved into.

A few years ago I worked as an advocate for Latina immigrant women in Pennsylvania, most of whom were here without documents. I helped them find prenatal care, apply for emergency medical assistance and care for their newborn children. The stories that I would hear from these women were terrifying. The trials and tribulations of crossing the border, usually in unsafe conditions, quite of few of them pregnant while crossing.

One can only imagine the desperation that would lead a woman to attempt such a crossing at nine months pregnant. One woman I worked with had ridden for hours in the trunk of a car with a few other men to cross. Countless women are abused by the people they pay (huge sums) to bring them over (called coyotes), as well as their travelling partners and I’m sure some border patrol officials once they arrive in the United States. Death rates on the border are high, with people getting lost in the desert, and dying of starvation and dehydration.

The situation with immigration continues to deteriorate, and Bush’s calls to heighten border security and build million dollar fences will not alleviate the problem. We need humane and reasonable immigration policies, that don’t discriminate against the people we rely on for manual labor, who keep this country running by working in the factories, fields, restaurants and hotels.