A Choice No Woman Should Have To Make
October 4, 2012 by Mallika Dutt
The opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and not necessarily those of The New Agenda.
Imagine dropping your child off at school every day afraid that you won’t be back at pickup time.
Imagine staying with a violent partner because calling the cops could tear you away from your kids.
Imagine arranging for a neighbor to take care of your children in case you disappear, which could happen any time, any day.
Tough to imagine? Actually, this is reality. But not in Kabul or in Juarez. This is happening here. This is reality for millions of immigrant women in the United States. Reality for women like Norma Ortiz, who tells her harrowing story at New America Media – and, as the presidential debates begin, calls for Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to address immigrant women’s rights now. Reality for women whose true stories inspired “The Call,” Breakthrough’s brand-new short film about “Sonia,” an immigrant mother forced to make the impossible choice between keeping her daughter safe and keeping her family together.
We know that the “war on women” continues, with our rights increasingly under attack. But an entire population deeply affected by this conversation — and this war — continues to be largely ignored: immigrant women. Our #ImHere campaign, of which “The Call” is the centerpiece, is tapping into and growing the groundswell of people who are saying #ImHere to put immigrant women’s rights on the national agenda.
Inspired by the stories of real women we’ve encountered in our work, “The Call” shows the emotional struggles of an immigrant family as they grapple with the choice between seeking medical care when their daughter is attacked and the risk that doing so could trigger the mother’s deportation– and tear the family apart. The mother and daughter in the film are played by real-life mother and daughter Zuleyma Guevara (Sonia) and Yadira Guevara (Teresa).
As anyone who watches the film can see, cruel immigration policies rip families apart and force immigrant women into the shadows. Federal immigration policies and state laws such as Arizona’s harsh SB 1070 are creating human rights crises in communities around the country. These laws legitimize racism, racial profiling, and the scapegoating of immigrants. They enforce cruel conditions that needlessly separate mothers from their children and restrict access to basic health care and education. In the first six months of 2011, the U.S. deported more than 46,000 parents of U.S.-citizen children. Currently there are 5,100 U.S. children living in foster care who are unable to reunite with their detained or deported families.The broken immigration system also forces women to choose between the threat of an abusive partner and the threat of deportation if they call the police.
These women share our values of family, community and country. Despite policies and attitudes that threaten them, they contribute to our economy by creating jobs and growing new businesses. They deserve to be treated fairly and live securely. But we continue to deny their basic human rights. Attacks on immigrant women undermine the fundamental American values of family and hard work, of just and inclusive democracy. It’s time that we all stand up for these women — our neighbors and friends, our mothers and sisters. Please watch and share this film to say #ImHere for the rights of immigrant women.