An important new campaign called #ImHere is highlighting the terrible choice millions of immigrant women face in the United States: between keeping themselves and children safe and keeping their families together. The human rights group Breakthrough made this heartwrenching video:
Norma Ortiz, an activist and former undocumented immigrant, has a story like this. She explains:
I endured abuse by my partner, while worrying constantly about my then three-year-old son. But, because of my immigration status, I feared what would happen if I contacted the authorities. When I finally did make the decision to call, my fears turned out to be all too real.
Instead of helping us get away from my abusive partner, police arrested me. I spent five days in jail, separated from my son, before authorities moved me to immigration custody and began deportation proceedings.
Norma was ultimately able to secure a special visa offered under the Violence Against Women Act–which, as Zerlina noted yesterday, is being held up by Republicans in part because they want to roll back these protections for women exactly like Norma.
And it’s not just the GOP that’s failing immigrant families. Despite some victories, the Obama administration has a pretty terrible record on immigration. In the first half of 2011, we deported more than 46,000 people whose children are US citizens. There are currently 5,100 children living in foster care who cannot reunite with their detained or deported parents. As Eesha wrote last year, “Our policies are breaking homes apart. Our policies are tearing children from their parents.”
If you stand with women like Sonia and Norma, share this video, use the #ImHereIVote hashtag, and help get the rights of immigrant women on the national political agenda.