Saturday, July 25, 2009

Newsflash: Immigrants Are People Too

I'm currently participating in Blogathon 2009 over at Jump off the Bridge. I'm posting every 30 minutes for 24 hours in order to raise money for READ Foundation by getting great people like you to sponsor me. I've decided to re-post some of the posts here at TheFU, but you can take a look at all of my Blogathon posts here, and sponsor me if you can to encourage me to make it all the way through.

The latest edition of The Cafe at On the Issues Online Magazine has been up for a few weeks now, and I've enjoyed reading some of these posts. One in particular had me thinking a lot, Holding the Line: Defending Feminist Values in Immigration Enforcement.

In this piece, Meghan Rhoad shares what she's learned from interviewing women in immigration detention facilities. She states:
The explosion of immigration detention has undermined two core principles of justice: deny liberty only when necessary, and treat those in custody with dignity. But in the politics of immigration, these core principles have become easily exchanged bargaining chips.
It's all downhill from there, and she lists some of the treatment these women are being put through:
• Women shackled during pregnancy.
• Breasts pumps denied to nursing mothers, resulting in fever and mastitis, and leaving them unable to continue breast-feeding.
• Critical screenings for breast and cervical cancer withheld.
• Contraception and abortion made inaccessible.
• Women humiliated and demoralized because they could not obtain sanitary pads.
• Confidentiality of medical information breached.
• Medical records lost in transfer.
• Requests for medical help ignored while dangerous conditions went untreated.

You should read the whole piece, but I want to say a couple of things.

For starters, I am one of those feminists who cringe when I hear news reports about "the women and children." You know the ones -- it's usually about war or some other horrible but supposedly necessary thing and they let you know that among the victims are countless women and children.

1) Women are not children, and lumping them together in the same sentence pisses me off.
2) All lives have value. I do not need to know that out of 100 victims, x were men, and x were women and children. All I need to know is that there were 100 victims, and my pain and sympathy is already there.

All of that said, I think it's absolutely atrocious to think about what these women are going through. Not to say that whatever the men are going through isn't bad, but seriously, what the hell?? Even women who commit dangerous crimes should not be subjected to this type of treatment. Women who have not committed dangerous crimes? Even less so.

Rhoad states:
the majority of women imprisoned in detention centers have committed no crime. They include asylum seekers, victims of trafficking, survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, the elderly and the seriously ill.

Please think about that for a moment. Survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. Victims of trafficking. Women who have already been through an experience traumatic enough to stay with them for the rest of their lives are now subjected to heinous treatment simply because they are trying to leave that trauma behind.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: immigrants are REAL PEOPLE. They are of flesh and blood. They are not savages. They are not aliens from outer space coming to attack us. They are you or your grandparents or great-great-grandparents. They are ME.

As legislation is introduced that directly affects the experiences of immigrants, please keep this in mind.

(Originally posted at Jump off the Bridge.)

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