Arizona’s Anti-Immigrant Bills Promote Violence Against Immigrant Women and Their Families

By Susana Sanchez

Many of Arizona’s legislators are convinced that harsh anti-immigrant bills would push undocumented immigrants out of Arizona. Instead of encouraging immigrants to leave, the latest anti-immigrant bills are attacking immigrant women and their families.

This week, Arizona’s State Appropriations Committee became the first state legislative committee to pass two bills that would deny birthright citizenship to the children of undocumented immigrants. As I have previously argued, denying birthright citizenship to the children of undocumented immigrants is an attack on immigrant women’s fertility, and an attack on women who are for the most part of color. Denying birthright citizenship to the children of undocumented immigrants would legally justify racial discrimination and have damaging consequences within U.S. society.

Senator Russell Pearce, the same senator behind SB1070, has introduced an omnibus immigration bill that would deny elementary education to undocumented immigrant children. Even though in 1982 the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Plyler v. Doe that undocumented children had the right to K-12 education, SB1611 bars undocumented immigrant children from enrolling in elementary school by requiring them to show proof of a U.S. birth certificate or proof of legal residency.

Denying children the right to basic education is to ostracize them from U.S. society and would create an underclass of people. Just in case these legislators have not figured it out yet, anti-immigrant laws do not push immigrants to leave; these public policies marginalize the already disenfranchised.

It is necessary to stand up against bills that attack women and their reproductive capacities as well as to bills that would create an underclass of people compelled to remain illiterate and ostracized from U.S. society.


Susana Sanchez is an international student from Costa Rica who works with Hampshire College’s Population and Development Program as a Research Assistant.