"When the law targets Latinos"

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Photo Credit: NLIRH
Strong Families member, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, co-wrote an op-ed for The Daily Beast with the National Immigration Law Center and the National Council of La Raza.

It discusses the provisions of the Affordable Care Act,  as well as the racial bias promoted by Arizona’s largely unconstitutional SB 1070 and the recent House passage of the Violence Against Women Act. Here's an excerpt. Read the full article here.

When the Law Targets Latinos: The Battles Yet to Be Fought
By Jessica Gonz√°lez-Rojas, Marielena Hincapi√© and Jennifer Ng’andu
In the same week the Supreme Court upheld the historic health-care act, it also upheld the most controversial tenet of Arizona’s notorious racial-profiling law, otherwise known as SB 1070. This provision gives police officers the right to demand “papers” of anyone who “appears” to be in the country without authorization.

Add that to the recent House passage of the Violence Against Women Act—legislation that is intended to protect women from violent crimes, but actually excludes or weakens protections for many groups, especially immigrant victims of violence—and it is clear there is much more to do.

It’s not unusual for immigrants—and even those who “look like” immigrants—to be ignored and even dehumanized by immigration opponents. But the law should not support such behavior.

And so, even as we applaud news that the Affordable Care Act stands, we are concerned about some of its provisions.

Certainly some tenets of the act will benefit immigrants and their families, including support for community health centers, language and cultural competency training for providers, the expansion of Medicaid coverage, new marketplaces for insurance, and an investment in women’s health that will mean better access to preventive care such as contraception, mammograms, and cervical-cancer screenings, without co-pays. Still, millions of immigrants will be excluded from coverage. Lawful permanent residents who have been in the U.S. for fewer than five years are barred from Medicaid. Further, undocumented immigrants are prohibited from participating in the state health-insurance exchanges, even when purchasing insurance with their own money.

Even more concerning: the racial-profiling in Arizona’s largely unconstitutional SB 1070 immigration law, and the House’s Violence Against Women legislation—which removed safeguards for victims of domestic abuse who are applying for residency visas. These laws encourage suspicion, bias, and profiling of immigrants, Latinos, and other people of color. Anti-immigrant rhetoric and legislation are nothing more than thinly veiled attacks on Latino civil rights.

These laws are being used as a political organizing tool that pits one community against others. And they reflect a profound misunderstanding of Latinos. They remind us that there is more to be done to guarantee our civil and human rights are fully acknowledged and enforced.