It’s difficult not to have at least an idea of the harsh anti-immigrant  sentiment throughout the Nation these last couple of years.  With the passage of SB 1070 in Arizona back in April 2010, which fundamentally allows AZ police to detain anyone they “suspect” is undocumented and arrest those who cannot “prove” they are documented residents of the United States.  And in Mississippi, where a similar law was passed in January 2011, SB 2179, which makes it a crime in Mississippi to be caught without immigration papers and allow police to arrest, ‘“without warrant,” a person “reasonably believed” to be in the country without papers.’

Unfortunately, that is not the last of the anti-immigration bills that are being proposed and passed in the United States. Arizona has gone on to introduce yet another bill, SB 1611, which, if passed, would (to name a few):

  • Revoke citizenship for U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants
  • Deny kids K-12 education if their moms and dads can’t produce a U.S. birth certificate or naturalization papers
  • Force hospital workers to confirm immigration status before they provide non-emergency care—including prenatal cars
  • Force state social service workers to deny—and, and in some cases, report—undocumented immigrant women seeking WIC and shelter from domestic violence.

For women, particularly undocumented survivors of sexual assault (SA) and domestic violence (DV), anti-immigrant laws such as those in AZ and MS, the impact can be devastating. recently interviewed Elizabeth Barajas-Roman, director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, about how this bill will affect undocumented Latina women, particularly their access to health care, and by extension, access to SA and DV services. Elizabeth points out that:

  • “It is widely known that anti-immigration laws create a culture of fear in Latino communities. SB 1611 creates a whole new set of barriers to education. Educational attainment is one way that Latinas can have access to information, resources and services that will help them make informed and autonomous decisions about their health care.”
  • “[Undocumented] female immigrants are already forced to work in industries that are undervalued, underpaid and hazardous to their health.They often lack basic worker protections and health and unemployment benefits. SB 1611 would force them into the shadows even more.”
  • “We know that many immigrants don’t access the health care they are eligible for because [they fear anti-immigrant sentiment]; they’re confused over eligibility rules, the face language barriers, and they fear of losing a day’s wages. SB 1611 could make things worse.”
  • Mental health issues also come into play. Constant experiences with racism and intolerance can cause stress and trigger depression.”

With the looming fear of deportation, many undocumented survivors are not accessing services from Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence agencies as it is, and bills such as these will push undocumented survivors deeper into obscurity. Because even if bills such as these may not currently exist in CA, the threat is real for undocumented survivors.
What other ways do you believe anti-immigration laws such as those in AZ and MS will affect undocumented survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, and their access to your agencies?