Immigration reform is present on most national political agendas. The rising population of Hispanic-Americans and other ethnicities and races relocating to the United States has an impact on political elections. President Obama’s decisive 2012 victory prompted elected officials on both sides of the aisle to focus on immigration policies.

However, as the Gang of Eight establishes difficult paths to citizenship, migrant women’s reproductive healthcare is not being addressed as it relates to the importance of effective, fair immigration policies. The Latina Institute published a policy analysis finding “the majority of undocumented immigrant women do not have access to affordable health insurance,” and “immigrant women are less likely to receive adequate reproductive health care, including cervical and breast cancer screening and treatment, family planning services, HIV/AIDS testing and treatment, accurate sex education and culturally and linguistically competent services.”

Migrant women often have to wait five years to receive Medicaid, even when they have a green card according to the Latina Institute. This has led to intense and dangerous alternatives. One woman told– that she swam across the Rio Grande to access healthcare.

“Immigrant women in Texas tell us that accessing birth control, cervical cancer screenings, and other reproductive care is so difficult here in the United States, they’re forced to cross into Mexico in order to get the care they need,” Kimberly Inez McGuire, Associate Director of Government Relations and Public Affair at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health told Dissent. “One woman told us about how she literally swam across the Rio Grande to get access to reproductive care.”

Dissent magazine published an excellent article surveying how current immigration policies impact migrant women’s ability to receive adequate healthcare. Some Americans insist immigrants are absorbing our resources, but this isn’t fully-accurate.

At a time when more American women are asking why they “can’t have it all,” immigrant women endure a much crueler work-life balance: mostly poor, often without papers, and largely Latina, they’re exposed daily to chronic poverty, the threat of deportation, and sexual trauma. The struggle is inscribed on their bodies and reproductive destinies.

Under federal law, immigrants, including many green-card holders, face various bans and exclusions from federal health programs. For issues of sexual and reproductive health, immigrant women often find themselves doubly excluded from a health care infrastructure that degrades all poor women, unable to access or afford contraceptive and abortion services, prenatal care, or treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. Sexual violence or coercion by employers, inhumane conditions at detention centers, and a lack of legal recourse against abusers plague women with a precarious legal status. The dignity of reproductive sovereignty is a privilege that the low-wage economy forecloses for millions of immigrant women.

Though the Affordable Care Act can assist immigrant women in theory, it won’t be much help in praxis.

Kinsey Hasstedt, public policy associate with Guttmacher Institute, told Dissent the healthcare reforms are “a largely missed opportunity to put right much of what has gone wrong with immigrants’ access to affordable health insurance.” The expanded benefits afforded in the ACA are “disproportionately inaccessible to immigrants.”

Migrant women are rendered invisible and neglected in the overall immigration debate. Their struggle should be that of all women invested in equality.

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  • Rue

    Breaking! Study also finds water is wet. I repeat: The dangerous claim that wet is being made by this study!

    I wanna hit the researchers in the head and tell DUH!!!

  • KayKay

    They should go back to their own country if they want healthcare. No sympathy for people who break the law over here. Send ’em all back to where they came from and tell them to try again the legal way. I have no effs to give about the welfare of lawbreakers.

    • Misty_Moonsilver

      I don’t even need to comment. You’re on point Kay.

    • eh

      Coming from someone who clearly was born in a country/family that affords them the opportunity to make such statements.

  • The Moon in the Sky

    Well, yes that makes sense. They are illegal residents.

    • illegal residents who come over here while pregnant to have anchor babies.smh

  • Aubree Phillips

    What about the now women that came here young at the ages of 2-3 years old and sadly grew up in this country that by paper isn’t their country but in their heart it’s all you have ever known. How do you just leave that? You all just say “oh theyre illegal so they don’t deserve anything”. You al think it’s so freaking easy to just come legally. If that were so, do you think there would be so many illegals here? Do you think they like being treated like shit by most racists just for the hell of it? You all dont know anything at all. And before you go on ranting, I am not speaking for myself thank goodness because I could not deal with pricks like some of you. But.I do speak for friends I know. And if any of you had any idea whatsoever you wouldn’t be talking like a bunch of bigots. You all have absolutely noooo idea of what you are talking about. You just open your mouths to speak crap. If you all really want to talk shit, first I suggest you get your ignorant ***es informed. But really informed. Don’t just talk about what your neighbors friend said or what you think you heard somewhere. Get actual facts and get them straight before you go and talk shit. I bet if any of you were in the situation and had no money to feed your families, you would do whatever it takes. Let me give you a little insight. To get a simple visa to come here as a TOURIST (which you cant work with obviously) you have to own properties in your country, and have at least 44,000 pesos which is about 4,000 dollars in the bank because you have to prove to immigration that you don’t need the U.S. If you want to get a work visa you have to have some sort of diploma because they only prefer giving work visas to the educated people. Not the ones who sadly had to drop out of school to work so they could make extra money to feed their families. Or would any of you just sit around and watch your kids or parents or siblings starve to death?? I doubt it. Most of them don’t own anything for the same reason I just stated. The pay is horrible not enough. So what else are they supposed to do. Humans have the right to find ways to survive. Do you think they enjoy breaking the law and being called “illegals” and “criminals” and “wetbacks” and so forth? All you argue that illegals are taking your jobs. Umm, no. You all I bet are some fancy CEO and or managers or big time accomplishers. All of you I’m sure must tell your kids “go to college bwcause I don’t want yoy working at some mediocre low paying job like Mcdonalds” those jobs are considered for failures. Well those are the jobs you all fight over! Those poor people take the jobs they can get! Working long hour days for really low pay but you know what? To them its a blessing to have a job! They are just hard working people. More than I can say for the great american citizens. You wont take jobs unless they pay you what you think you deserve and you want decent lunch breaks, paid vacations, insurance andd don’t make them work overtime because they will explode on you! I have dealt with both kinds both americans and immigrants and honestly immigrants are much more hardworking for some reason! As much as it hurts to say but we being citizens are spoiled! But anyway I’m done, I will never make any of you see the world the way I do. You all will continue to live in your ignorance filled bubble.