National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health asked its supporters to tackle that question this week in honor of it's second annual Latina Week of Action for Reproductive Justice. What is the REAL problem with the scapegoating of immigrant women in the USA?
It is particularly apt that a reproductive health organization is asking this question. I truly believe that at the heart of anti-immigration sentiment is the multiplication and reproduction issue. Put plainly, us Latinas know how to have babies. And it scares some people to bits. From "anchor babies" to teen pregnancies, Latinas are having babies at a higher rate than any other population. "In 2006 Latina adolescents gave birth at a rate more than twice that of white teens."
Drug dealers and terrorists don't seem as scary as immigrant women, bent on destroying the good U.S. of A. with their powerfully and fast reproducing wombs. Skipping over the border merely to get that baby a birth certificate, never mind the vastly improved medical services. Forget that conservatives seem to care about "the children." Oh wait, they only care about fetuses.
It is far easier to point a finger at "those people" for the troubles of this country than to look deep at our institutional flaws. Flaws that allow young people to be completely ignorant of what their bodies are capable of:
But more than all of that, I truly believe that at the end of the day, Latinas just don't matter to this country. We are seen as hyper-fertile. That is only a problem because our lives are not valued. If we, as women, are not valued, our children are not valued. Our babies are seen as adding to the woes of this country instead of being seen as future leaders who should be worthy of investment.
According to recent statistics from the Guttmacher Institute, 41 percent of teenagers (regardless of the type of sexuality education they received) know little or nothing about condoms and 75 percent know little or nothing about oral contraception.
I know that immigrant woman does not equal Latina or even Mexican, but it sure does feel like it a lot.
So what's the real problem? We are not valued. We are not seen as human beings. Our children are either not valued at all or stolen from us. And until we are, immigrant women of all nationalities will be seen as scapegoats for the downfall that this country is experiencing.
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