29 March 2011

Women's Well-Being and Policy Solutions Must Drive Immigration Reform

On Sunday March 26, 2011, the New York Times published Anika Rahman's letter to the editor in response to its March 18 article, Immigrant Detentions Draw International Fire, that identified serious problems with US immigration policies. As we note in the text below, it is "long past time that...women's solutions for change, drive federal immigration reform."

To the Editor:

We were pleased to read that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has issued harsh criticism of United States immigration policies, specifically immigrant detention and 287(g), the dangerous program that puts immigration enforcement in the hands of local police.

We hope that international condemnation will finally compel lawmakers to halt 287(g) and end immigrant detention, a policy that has led to gross human rights violations in for-profit prisons run by corporations.

In particular, we urge the United States government to end human rights abuses of immigrant women and children. Our grantees, advocacy groups nationwide, tell us that women are especially vulnerable.

Women in detention are subjected to a litany of horrors, including rape and physical assault, being forced to give birth in shackles and losing their young children to foster care or an abusive partner.

Across the country, 287(g) programs instill such fear of local police that women, afraid of deportation, do not report domestic violence or other crimes, placing women, families and entire communities at risk.

Our current immigration policies are an international disgrace. It's long past time that women and children's well-being, and women's solutions for change, drive federal immigration reform.

Anika Rahman
President & CEO
Ms. Foundation for Women