Alejandra Pablos’ Detention Reminds Us Immigration is a Reproductive Justice Issue

Two weeks ago, reproductive justice and migrant rights activist, Alejandro Pablos, was detained during a routine check-in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Tucson. Many have pointed out that Pablos’ detention is the latest in a series of silent raids targeting high-profile immigration activists, including sanctuary movement leader Ravi Ragbir and prison abolition organizer Maru Mora-Villalpando. But Pablos’ detention is also a reminder that immigration is a reproductive justice issue and that we have to fight like hell against an Administration that’s hell-bent on endangering the health and well-being of immigrant women and our families.

Alejandra Pablos works as a field organizer for the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH), where she focuses on issues surrounding women’s health care, immigration reform, and mass incarceration. She is also a member of We Testify, an abortion storytelling leadership program, and Mijente, a Latinx and Chicanx-led social justice organization. Following Pablos’ arrest, the NLIRH released a statement demanding her release, noting:

“Our hermana en la lucha and poderosa Alejandra was detained in Arizona earlier this morning by ICE. Alejandra is a powerful immigrant and reproductive justice organizer who has done incredible work for the Latinx community in Arizona, Virginia and beyond. Right now, we are asking you to join us in supporting Alejandra so that we can bring her home. NLIRH will continue to fight so that our community can live with dignity and without fear of deportation.”

Pablos’ arrest comes at a time when immigrant women’s reproductive health is increasingly under attack. Trump’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) Secretary, Scott Lloyd, is widely known for abusing his power to control the reproductive decisions of immigrant women. In the past year, there have been multiple cases of immigrant teens being “held hostage” by ORR for seeking abortion care, with the case of Jane Doe perhaps being the most well-known. And as Tina Vasquez at Rewire reports, in March 2017, the Trump administration implemented a revised policy that prevents unaccompanied immigrant minors in the ORR’s care from obtaining abortions by barring federally funded shelters from taking “any action that facilitates abortion access to unaccompanied minors in their care without [Lloyd's'] direction and approval.” Trump’s proposed budget would also allow ICE agents to determine if detained migrants can access abortion care. Pablos was undoubtedly a target for detention because of her commitment to working for the reproductive health and well-being of immigrant women under an anti-choice and anti-immigrant Administration.

But reproductive justice isn’t only about the right to access safe abortions. The concept of reproductive justice, which was first introduced in 2003 by Loretta Ross, the National Coordinator for SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, places abortion and reproductive health in the larger context of the well-being and health of women, families and communities. The right of immigrant women to control our reproductive futures (when and if we become parents) is tied to our right to have healthy pregnancies and healthy and safe families and relationships. Pablos’ detention–and the continued targeting, detention, and deportation of migrants under the Trump administration–is a form of reproductive oppression: “the control and exploitation of women, girls, and individuals through our bodies, sexuality, labor, and reproduction.”

When immigrant women are deported and separated from their children and families, it’s a reproductive justice issue. When immigrants are detained and imprisoned in inhumane detention centers, where women (and especially trans women) are vulnerable to sexual assault, rape, and other bodily violations, it’s a reproductive justice issue. When we are denied access to safe workplaces and forced to labor in the shadows, it’s a reproductive justice issue. When women’s reproductive health choices are vetoed by bigots like Lloyd, it’s a reproductive justice issue. And when activists like Alejandra Pablos are indefinitely detained as a form of retaliation for their advocacy and activism, it’s a reproductive justice issue.

Sign Mijente’s petition and demand Pablos’ release today.

Header image via Teen Vogue.

Durham, NC

Barbara is a doctoral student at The University of North Carolina interested in im/migration and migrant activism and organizing.

Barbara is a doctoral student at The University of North Carolina interested in im/migration and migrant activism and organizing.

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