Center for American Progress

Targeting Women and Children in the Immigration Debate Is Cowardly

Targeting Women and Children in the Immigration Debate Is Cowardly

Targeting women and children instead of those who refuse to fix our broken system is no way to enact comprehensive immigration reform.

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This election cycle conservatives are intoxicated with immigrant bashing, particularly pregnant immigrant women and their children. Their rhetoric on this issue is particularly insulting, likening the human birthing process to that of farm animals. Ironically, many of the same politicians who have jumped on the citizenship denial bandwagon also claim to be “pro-life” and “pro-family.” Yet they have no hesitation about splitting up families through harsh deportation policies or dehumanizing immigrant women and their children with their hateful rhetoric.

By portraying immigrant women as less than human—that they “drop” babies as animals drop their offspring—immigration opponents stir up fears that foreigners specifically come here to have children in order to derive citizenship from their children, or claim government benefits. Or, as Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) has foolishly maintained, to “raise and coddle” future terrorists.

But the simple fact is that most immigrant women do not come to the United States to give birth. They come to work. A child cannot even petition for the parents to become citizens until the child is 21. What’s more, undocumented immigrants have never been eligible for welfare benefits, and new legal immigrants to the United States became ineligible for services for the poor as a result of the 1996 welfare reform law President Bill Clinton signed.

This politically manufactured issue is indeed ludicrous, but it is no laughing matter. It will take time to remind the public that the only “anchors” in this debate are the dead weights that refuse to act responsibly and fix our broken immigration system by enacting comprehensive immigration reform. Targeting women and children instead is a cowardly way out.

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