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When Abortion Meets Immigration: How I Help The Undocumented Obtain An Abortion

In recent years, there has been an uptick of unaccompanied minors crossing the border. These young people take on this punishing journey in hopes of a safer life in the states, so once they present themselves at an official U.S. port of entry, they are placed in a temporary shelter.

The federal government is legally required to provide housing, food, and medical care to these unaccompanied minors, as per a legal decision called the Flores Agreement. However, providing contraception and abortion care as required was one of the first things to go as the current Administration began to disregard Flores, and now recent news reports indicate young people are being denied basic necessities as well.

During the intake process, all minors undergo a medical exam that includes a pregnancy test and then options counseling is supposed to be done with the pregnant minors.

CREDIT: Irma Garcia

Due to former shelter policies, mostly at shelters with religious affiliations, they were not always able to provide, refer, or in any way facilitate access to contraceptives and abortion services. We also know that young people who want to continue their pregnancy are not provided the trauma-informed care they need, and often receive care from a doctor who does not speak their language.

In 2017, the #JusticeForJane campaign swept the country as the Trump Administration attempted to block a 17-year-old Central American immigrant minor, referred to as “Jane Doe” for anonymity, from obtaining an abortion in Texas.

Jane had already gotten a judicial bypass to have the abortion without parental consent with the help of Jane’s Due Process (JDP), a Texas non-profit that provides legal representation and practical support for pregnant minors. The federal government’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) refused to allow her to use the bypass and forced her to go to a crisis pregnancy center for anti-abortion, religious-based counseling. They were also set on not transporting her to the abortion clinic, and refused to release her to her court-assigned attorney and guardian, stating that it would be facilitating abortion. The shelter claimed these orders were coming from ORR, contrary to the stated policies around abortion on their website and in the Flores settlement. In 2008, George W. Bush issued a policy that allowed “heightened involvement” from ORR in crucial cases like abortion, but in 2017, that policy was reinterpreted to prohibit any type of facilitation for an unaccompanied minor to access abortion care. Jane Doe’s judicial bypass lawyers and JDP contacted the ACLU, who then filed a lawsuit against the federal government regarding ORR’s new, ad hoc policy that prohibited facilitating abortion for unaccompanied minors, on the grounds that it was unconstitutional. Jane was adamant that she wanted an abortion, and after a month of obstruction by the Trump Administration, she was finally able to get it. The ACLU sought class certification for her case, meaning that she could be a representative of all unaccompanied minors in a similar situation. As of last month, she won: a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals ruled that the Trump Administration cannot block unaccompanied minors in federal custody from getting an abortion.

While having the federal government block access to an abortion clinic is an unusual barrier, all of our clients face barriers to abortion access.

This starts with the parental consent law that requires young people who cannot get parental consent for an abortion to go in front of a judge for permission to obtain an abortion. Jane’s Due Process was founded in 2001 when the first parental involvement law for a minor seeking an abortion in Texas went into effect. Since its founding, the organization has supported thousands of young people in Texas to obtain an abortion and access birth control without parental involvement, and has provided information about reproductive and sexual health decision-making to young people and those who support them across the state. The reasons for not notifying a parent about these reproductive health decisions vary–from knowing that parents will force them to give birth to fear of abuse to parents not being a part of that person’s life. Regardless of the reason, my role is to make sure that every person who calls us seeking an abortion can obtain one, even with the socioeconomic barriers (transportation, money, lack of communication platforms, support system, etc.) that are present.

In the cases of ORR Janes, shelters are required to reach out to me as soon as the unaccompanied minor mentions that she is interested in terminating her pregnancy.

At that point, I speak with the minor to get a sense of her situation, and then reach out to clinics and local attorneys to set her appointments. This process is usually strenuous due to most ORR shelters being in the southern part of Texas, which only has one abortion clinic (procedures up to 17 weeks) and limited doctor availability. Once an attorney meets with the minor, the bypass application gets filed and a hearing date is set. Between these dates, I am in constant communication with Jane to prep for her hearing. She then goes before a judge to prove that obtaining an abortion is in her best interest or that she’s mature enough to make the decision to terminate. Once the bypass gets approved, I reach out to the clinic to notify and set her appointments. Then, I reach out to abortion funds to cover her abortion costs and lastly, confirm with the shelter that transportation is set. In the rare case I receive pushback, I reach out to our legal counsel and the ACLU for support in clarifying policies and reiterating the constitutional rights that unaccompanied minors have regarding abortion care.

It is important to remember that when a young person becomes pregnant within a conservative or capitalist state that never provided the appropriate sex education in the first place, it is not the young person’s fault. Abortion is a constitutional right, no matter your immigration status, and the organization I work with continues fighting to make sure each young person’s right to an abortion is protected and accessible.

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Radical Feminists Have Seized Control of a Federal Building in Mexico in Protest of the Government’s Apathy Towards Rampant Femicide

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Radical Feminists Have Seized Control of a Federal Building in Mexico in Protest of the Government’s Apathy Towards Rampant Femicide

Last week, Mexican feminist activists took over the National Human Rights Commissions federal building in a move to bring greater awareness to the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide that has racked Mexico for decades.

According to the federal Interior Secretariat, the statistics in Mexico have recently taken a turn for the worse.

Domestic violence against women has became an even more acute problem since the pandemic has forced women to stay insider with their abusers. Emergency distress calls reporting domestic violence have risen by 50%.

The occupation of the Human Rights building is just another chapter in the saga of the “Ni Una Menos” (Not One More Woman) movement, an anti-femicide collective born in Argentina that has steadily been gaining steam in Mexico since 2019.

In recent years, anti-femicide demonstrations have been sparked by various heinous crimes against women or girls that have been largely overlooked by law enforcement officials. 

Photo by Marcos Brindicci/Getty Images

Unfortunately, the government of Mexico has appeared to be apathetic to the wave of femicide that is overwhelming the women of their country.

Recently, when President Andrés Manuel López Obrador was asked to address Mexico’s gender violence epidemic, he demurred, stating that he didn’t “want femicide to detract” from the raffle his administration was holding for the sale of the presidential airplane.

As for the feminist activists at the heart of Ni Una Menos and the federal building occupation, the government’s failure to respond to anti-woman violence is the primary fuel for their anger. 

“We’re here so that the whole world will know that in Mexico they kill women and nobody does anything about it,” said Yesenia Zamudio to the LA Times. According to Zamudio, she is still seeking justice for the murder of her 19-year-old daughter four years ago.

The women of Mexico appear to be fed up, grasping at any and all tactics that have the potential to incite change on a grander scale.

Their tactics may seem dramatic to some, but it’s undeniable that they are no longer being ignored. As of now, the radical activists are pulling attention-grabbing stunts like decorating a portrait of Mexican Revolution leader Francisco Madero with lipstick and purple hair.

They’re also making headlines for vandalizing the federal building’s walls and splashing paint on the doors of the presidential palace.

One thing is for sure: something has to change. Otherwise, thousands of innocent women and girls will continue to be raped, abused, and murdered while their perpetrators escape with immunity. 

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Joe Biden Speaks Alongside ‘Fearless Fighter’ Kamala Harris In First Appearance And Recalls Her Family’s Immigrant Story

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Joe Biden Speaks Alongside ‘Fearless Fighter’ Kamala Harris In First Appearance And Recalls Her Family’s Immigrant Story

Chip Somodevilla / Gettycc

After weeks of speculation and anticipation, presidential candidate Joe Biden announced on Tuesday that he has officially picked his running mate.

In a history-making announcement, Biden revealed that he had tapped California Sen. Kamala Harris to be his VP Pick.

“I have the great honor to announce that I’ve picked @KamalaHarris — a fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants — as my running mate,” Biden announced in a tweet.

On Wednesday, Biden held his first campaign event alongside running mate Kamala Harris in Delaware.

During their speeches, the two candidates wore masks and kept their distance in keeping with COVID-19 standards.

Speaking about his VP pick, Biden described Harris as coming from an “America’s story.” Biden described Harris as “a child of immigrants” who “knows personally how immigrant families enrich our country as well as the challenges of what it means to grow up Black and Indian-American in the United States of America,” he explained. “And this morning, all across the nation, little girls woke up, especially little Black and brown girls that feel overlooked and undervalued in their communities, but today — today just maybe they’re seeing themselves for the first time in a new way as president and vice presidents.”

In a speech of her own, Harris emphasized the importance of family and urged citizens to vote.  “We need a mandate that proves that the past few years do not represent who we are or who we aspire to be,” she said. “Joe likes to say that character is on the ballot. And it’s true,” she explained. “I’ve had a lot of titles over my career and certainly vice president will be great. But ‘Momala’ will always be the one that means the most.”

Harris’s nomination makes her the first Black and first Indian-American woman on either major party’s presidential ticket.

Harris is a former prosecutor from California who challenged Biden in her own presidential bid last year. Her nomination makes her the fourth woman to appear on a major presidential ballot. Before her, Geraldine Ferraro ran as a Democratic vice presidential nominee in 1984. In 2008, Republican Sarah Palin ran as a vice presidential nominee, later in 2016, Hillary Clinton became the Democratic presidential nominee.

Biden’s choice was one that has long been in the works. In March of this year, he revealed that he would make a point to have a woman as his running mate and in July he announced that he had narrowed his picks down to four Black women.

Kamala Harris was elected to Congress in 2016.

This has been Harris’ first term as a senator. Before, she served as the California attorney general. During her time as AG, Harris formed a lasting friendship with Biden’s late son Beau who was attorney general at the time in Delaware. Writing about Beau’s death, in her memoir The Truths We Hold, Harris recalled that “there were periods when I was taking the heat when Beau and I talked every day, sometimes multiple times a day,” she wrote in her memoir. “We had each other’s backs.”

Biden’s son Beau died in 2015 from brain cancer. Harris attended his funeral.

During his announcement, Biden mentioned Harris’ friendship with his son.

“I watched as they took on the big banks, lifted up working people, and protected women and kids from abuse,” Biden tweeted. “I was proud then, and I’m proud now to have her as my partner in this campaign.”

So far, it seems there are quite a bit of Harris x Biden supporters.

Fans were quick to give their support and applaud her candidacy.

In a tweet acknowledging her nomination, Harris wrote “@JoeBiden can unify the American people because he’s spent his life fighting for us. And as president, he’ll build an America that lives up to our ideals. I’m honored to join him as our party’s nominee for Vice President, and do what it takes to make him our Commander-in-Chief.”

Here’s to 2020 y’all. Get ready to make history.

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