This article is one in a series on immigrant rights and attacks against immigrants being published by Rewire in partnership with the National Coalition for Immigrant Women’s Rights. See all articles in the series here.
During Women’s History Month 2011 leaders from the environmental justice, immigration, women and labor movements convened a Roundtable in Washington DC to deliver a critical message: the attacks on the citizenship and basic human rights of immigrants and their children is a pressing feminist issue in our country. The 14th Amendment is one of the greatest civil rights achievements of our time, and efforts to unravel these human rights profoundly impacts diverse social movements.
The National Coalition for Immigrant Women’s Rights (NCIWR) strongly condemns the ongoing campaign of intimidation and stigma aimed at immigrant women and their families. Instead of unveiling proposals to address the critical issues that currently affect our country, like jobs, the economy, education, the federal deficit, solving our foreign relations issues, some vocal conservatives have decided to wage a new war of discrimination against immigrant women.
Despite the growing national concern about these attacks, many state lawmakers continue to make progress in pushing harmful proposals, including states such as Florida, Georgia and Tennessee. These bills attempt to radically redefine citizenship, create new civil rights violations such as allowing police officers to demand proof of citizenship from those they deem “suspicious”.
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But it doesn’t stop there.
Critics of immigrants have launched a full-scale advocacy campaign of fear and resentment about immigrant women and their families. Misconstruing basic facts about immigration and using phrases like “lawless destructive anarchy of invasion,” “anchor babies,” and illegal alien invader,” anti-family, anti-immigrant lawmakers are advancing a smear campaign against immigrant women which impacts all families working to make ends meet and communities of color.
Like all women in our society, immigrant women deserve equality, dignity, and human rights. Women immigrants have been derided in these public debates, with few voices standing up for their right to reproductive health care, safety, food and housing, and access to social safety nets for their children. We must all work to elevate immigrant women’s voices and push back against dehumanizing rhetoric and attacks on immigrant women and their families.
NCIWR is the only national collaboration to specifically focus on women and gender issues in the public discourse on immigration. We work to elevate women’s voices and push back against dehumanizing attacks. The coalition represents more than 60 leading organizations with a presence nationally and in nearly every state. We also work with our civil rights allies to support their work to engage in these critical constitutional debates.
Lawmakers must not be allowed to attack women and their children using baseless academic theories of the Constitution. These “immigration” attacks are not only an issue for the immigrant rights community; these attacks take aim at the principles of the groups representing the diverse range of human and civil rights, including those fighting for equal opportunity, human rights and dignity, healthcare for all, and more. The National Coalition for Immigrant Women’s Rights welcomes organizations to join our coalition as we continue this fight to stop the promotion of stigma and bias against women and their children.