Monthly Archives: August 2011

Y las mexicanas migrantes, ¿cuándo?

By Gloria González-López

January 24, 2011

“Compañera, tenga cuidado, what you are suggesting has the risk of dividing our immigrant communities and families.”

The above comment is my paraphrase of the concerned voice of a highly committed community activist, a Mexican man I met more than a decade ago as I completed my doctoral studies in Los Angeles. Back then I was trying to engage in a conversation with him and other activist men about my ongoing research with immigrant women. In these dialogues, I was sharing information about my dissertation project and the ways in which these women were teaching me about their unique experiences of migration to the United States. More and more, this was becoming crystal clear to me: Mexican immigrant women experience their immigration journeys in very particular ways, very differently when compared to men migrating from their same locations and regions, including the men in their families.

Listening in person to the individual sex life histories and stories as told by the 40 immigrant women I interviewed back then made me keenly aware of the very unique social contexts and circumstances surrounding their complex immigration journeys. Sexual violence, for example, as part of the migration experiences in some of these women’s lives (i.e., rape as a reason to migrate, rape as part of the immigration journeys, and/or rape as part of life in Los Angeles after settlement) made me think of the ways in which immigrant women have very specific needs as women who are migrants.  I shared this and other concerns with the few activist men I coincided with back then in Los Angeles. I commented that community-based agencies were generously offering attention to immigrant women, but perhaps that was not enough and (in my utopian and naive imagination) special attention sponsored by the Mexican government was additionally needed for Mexican immigrant women. Some of these men expressed how much they cared about these issues, but they were concerned about what this might potentially do to their communities and families, for example, “poner a las mujeres en contra de los hombres y dividir a sus familias.” From these conversations, research I conducted later with men, and influential publications on gender and migration, I have learned that the labyrinths of inequality for both immigrant women and men are complex, frequently surrounded by intricate twists and turns, and fascinating contradictions and tensions. I have also learned that although patriarchy may be challenged and reorganized after migration and settlement, it does not vanish away.

More than 10 years have already passed. In the meantime, I have learned about the networks of allies working tirelessly to understand and help Mexican immigrant women who live in the United States, in person and the cyberspace, and on both sides of the border. During my visits in recent years to Mexico, I have also witnessed the visibility of a Mexican government sponsored institution addressing women’s issues on the Mexican side: el Instituto Nacional de las Mujeres. So, I have asked myself: Would the Mexican government ever consider creating an official, parallel institution in the United States, something like, the Instituto de Atención a las Mujeres Migrantes? Although Mexico as a nation is currently in deep pain while deciphering unprecedented crime and violence, and sexual violence is still a puzzle along the US-Mexico border and in the rest of Mexico, in my naivete, I keep wondering, y las mexicanas migrantes que vivimos en Estados Unidos, ¿cuándo?

[i]Women represent 46% of the estimated 12 million Mexican immigrants who live in the United States, according to the Consejo Nacional de Población, November 22, 2010, Migración y Salud: Inmigrantes mexicanas en Estados Unidos. Capítulo I: Características de las mujeres mexicanas adultas en Estados Unidos.


  1. Mujeres Talk Moderator  September 3, 2011 at 5:29 AM

    carmen ramona ponce melendez wrote on February 10, 2011 11:48 pm

    Estimada Gloria González. Es una utopía pensar que el gobierno de México se preocupe por la mujer migrante, mucho menos al grado de crear una Institución para esos efectos, lo que sucede con las mujeres migrantes de centroamerica que cruzan el país con destino a Estados Unidos le podrá dar una idea de lo poco que les importa este grave problema.Esa lucha la tendremos que dar las mujeres de aquí y de allá en forma organizaday posiblemente con ayuda de financieras internacionales, de este gobierno no se puede esperar nada, lamentablemente.

Mujeres, Migration & Arizona’s SB1070: Codifying Patriarchy and White Privilege

January 17, 2011

By C. Alejandra Elenes

Detail of Diego Rivera mural at National Palace,  Mexico City. Photograph by Theresa Delgadillo

Detail of Diego Rivera mural at National Palace,
Mexico City. Photograph by Theresa Delgadillo

There should be no doubt that patriarchy, white supremacy, and privilege are the ideological underpinnings of anti-immigrant legislation and policy in Arizona. The anti-immigrant climate in Arizona is not new, it is an intrinsic part of its history. Indeed at this historical juncture in the continuum of anti-immigrant legislation SB 1070 is taking center stage and has placed Arizona as the model for anti-immigrant legislation at the national level as other states are introducing similar pieces of legislation. As feminists we should pay attention to the link between public policy, power, nationalism, systemic oppression, and social and gender inequality. Laws such as SB 1070, not only create a hostile environment for Latinas/os in Arizona, but are part of a national narrative of race and gender in the U.S. resulting from demographic changes and fears about the “browning” of America.  In this climate, the female brown body is particularly targeted and objectified.

SB 1070 was introduced by Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce who worked with Kansas attorney Kris Kobach. Among Kobach’s credentials are his ties with the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). FAIR has a long association with eugenics and curtailing the reproductive rights and freedoms for women of color, especially Mexican and Puerto Rican women. Dr. John Tanton founder and Board Member of FAIR since the 1970s linked population growth and immigration. Sociologist Elena R. Gutiérrez argues in her book Fertile Matters there is an overlap between nativism and immigration. Gutiérrez documents that Tanton was concerned that the growth in the immigrant population would undermine any effect to the limit of the U.S. population growth. Xenophobia coupled with demographic changes is at the center of legislation such as SB 1070.

Unfortunately, after the November 2nd election Republicans in Arizona made substantial gains; Republicans are in control of the Executive and Legislative branches of the State Government. Pearce became the President of the Arizona Senate, giving him the power to name committee chairs and create committees. Indeed, among his first actions was to create the Border Security, Federalism and States’ Sovereignty Committee; recall that State Rights were used by Southern states as a ruse to counter the civil rights movement and legislation.

However, Pearce is also moving toward proposing legislation that will deny citizenship to children of “illegal” immigrants born in Arizona. An e-mail Pearce forwarded to his supporters from an acquaintance expresses his views about Mexican women in clear racist and sexist language: “If we are going to have an effect on the anchor baby racket, we need to target the mother. Call it sexist, but that’s the way nature made it. Men don’t drop anchor babies, illegal alien mothers do.” Pearce is well aware that such law will be challenged on its constitutionality. This is a challenge he wants, as he believes that if the case goes all the way to the Supreme Court he will win. Given the composition of the Supreme Court today with a powerful and extremely conservative majority, a decision reinterpreting the Fourteenth Amendment to deny citizenship to children born in the U.S. to undocumented mothers is plausible. From a legal and practical level it is difficult and dangerous to ascertain how we can decide who gets or does not get citizenship. Is it only if the mother is undocumented? What happens if the father is undocumented and the mother a U.S. citizen or “legal” immigrant?   Whenever a society a priori denies citizenship and basic rights to the most vulnerable it creates a group that does not have legal protection (in this case not even citizenship) is readably exploited and dehumanized.

Undoubtedly, there is a connection between xenophobic nationalism and gender/racial oppression that objectifies Mexican women’s bodies and criminalize their children even before they are born. The language used by Pearce is similar to the words used to justify slavery and segregation.  This is the time that Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social should step up on our activism and fight for our rights as mujeres and not let conservative forces deny our gender and civil rights, and to create an underclass of children with little hope for the future.


  1. Mujeres Talk Moderator  September 3, 2011 at 5:26 AM

    Carmen Ponce Melendez wrote on January 19, 2011 11:05 pm

    Estimadas Compañeras:
    Vivo en México, D.F., soy economista y feminista, escribo en una revista sobre Mujeres llamada CIMAC, su blog me lo dió el Sr. Enrique Méndez Flores de Salinas, California. Tengo mucho interés en el tema de mujeres migrantes y me pongo a sus órdenes para intercambiar información, por lo pronto les envíe dos artículos sobre “mujeres migrantes”, publicados en CIMAC, ahí mi mail, espero su respuesta.

    Carmen Ramona Ponce Meléndez

    ¿Quiénes son las migrantes mexicanas? –CIMAC Noticias
    Reforma Migratoria y Contracción de Remesas –CIMAC Noticias

  2. Mujeres Talk Moderator  September 3, 2011 at 5:27 AM

    Susana Gallardo wrote on January 21, 2011 2:27 am

    Alejandre, thank you so much for articulating this. This hateful anchor baby discourse just wrenches my soul like I cannot describe. Perhaps not only because I am a relatively new mom, but because I see so clearly how gifted and amazing my Chicana/o and Latina/o students, colleagues, DREAMers, and friends are, how much we have contributed, and will continue to contribute. To be reminded that we can be reduced to ‘anchor babies’ by some… it is just despicable.

  3. Mujeres Talk Moderator  September 3, 2011 at 5:27 AM

    Theresa Delgadillo wrote on January 21, 2011 12:37 pm

    Muchas gracias Carmen Ramona Ponce Meléndez para este trabajo sobre la vigilancia de la sexualidad y los derechos reproductivos de de la mujer, y su pobreza económica, en los dos lados de la frontera. Espero que nos mantiene informadas sobre el trabajo de CIMAC.

  4. Mujeres Talk Moderator  September 3, 2011 at 5:27 AM

    Enrique Mendez Flores wrote on January 22, 2011 6:42 am

    Congratulations to the editorial board of Mujeres Activas for Social Change for selecting this well written article of Ms. Elenes. I will send it to all my acquaintances because of its importance. Keep up your great work.


  5. Mujeres Talk Moderator  September 3, 2011 at 5:28 AM

    carmen ramona ponce melendez wrote on February 7, 2011 6:59 pm

    Dear Friends/Estimadas Compañeras: Gracias, yo les envíare artículos de CIMAC sobre la pobreza, desempleo y violencia con que vivimos las mujeres en México, espero sus comentarios.

  6. Mujeres Talk Moderator  September 3, 2011 at 5:28 AM

    Lillian Pittman wrote on March 8, 2011 9:26 pm

    This incessant desire to stamp out the “browning” of America through the criminalization of Latino/a children is so reminiscent of the Cradle to Prison Pipeline disease that has infected our public education system. My fear is that Arizona is simply a testing ground for legislature that could possibly spread across the country like wildfire. Thank you for this piece, it has put much into perspective.