Sonia waits anxiously for her daughter to return from school. She’s late. The door opens, a school friend nervously enters, behind her the battered face of her little girl. She’s been sexually assaulted. Sonia knows she needs to call a hospital and the police, but her daughter refuses.
“No we can’t, we just can’t. What would happen to you?” she asks Sonia, her undocumented mother.
That call could mean deportation for Sonia, but also security for her daughter. “The Call”, a five minute film produced by Breakthrough, a global human rights group, is part of a campaign to bring immigrant women’s rights to the front of the political agenda this election season. (Check out the film above.)
Based on a true story, Sonia’s situation aims to represent the “impossible choice” many undocumented immigrant women must make in the face of sexual assault, domestic abuse, and other violence.
The film is an answer to recent policy that excludes undocumented immigrants, placing their safety at risk.
The Obama Administration’s Affordable Care Act omits non-resident and, according to the New York Times, the federal government will soon cut in half the annual $20 billion in aid to hospitals currently treating large numbers of uninsured patients -- many of which are undocumented. The reduction in aid is based on the notion that after the ACA goes into effect less people will be uninsured.
Nevertheless, hospitals will remain obligated under federal law to treat anyone that enters their Emergency Rooms.
More relevant to the film’s plot, is the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that is currently awaiting reauthorization in Congress. Signed in 1994 by President Bill Clinton, the act had already been reauthorized twice with bipartisan support.
This year, however, Republicans have proposed changes to the law, arguing that undocumented women are reporting fraudulent cases of violence to gain temporary visas. The GOP’s amended bill would break the confidentiality guarantee for victims, directing them to the closest immigration office and allowing officers to reach out to the abusive partners. Leaving people worried that undocumented women would be less likely to report cases of domestic abuse.
In August, the Administration answered the call for immigration reform with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, allowing undocumented youth brought in by their parents to temporarily avoid deportation and gain work authorization (but not legal status) in the United States. Still, fathers and mothers, like “The Call’s” Sonia, remain at risk for deportation.
“Attacks on immigrant women are attacks on human rights. They undermine the fundamental American values of family and hard work, of just and inclusive democracy,” Mallika Dutt, Breakthrough president and CEO, wrote in a press release. “These women are successful contributors despite policies that threaten them. They deserve the right to be treated fairly and live securely.”
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This Aug. 14, 2012 photo shows Rony Molina holding a photo of his wife in his home in Stamford, Conn. Molina's wife, Sandra Payes Chacon, was deported to Guatemala in 2010, leaving Molina alone to care for their three children, all American citizens. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Sandra Payes Chacon, wife of Rony Molina, poses for a portrait at a friends home in Atlixco, Mexico, Thursday, June 7, 2012. Sandra, who lived in the U.S. illegally, was deported to Guatemala a year and a half ago. She left behind her husband and her three children, all of them U.S. citizens. In the first six months of 2011, the United States removed more than 46,000 immigrants who were the parents of American-born children according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The number was first reported in a study called "Shattered Families" by the Applied Research Center, a New York-based social justice organization. Nearly 45,000 such parents were removed in the first six months of this year, according to the ICE. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)
FILE - In this July 15, 2011 file photo, demonstrators hold signs in New York during a rally to condemn an immigration and customs enforcement program known as Secure Communities, and ICE's alleged refusal to meet with directly impacted immigrants. The signs read in Spanish "Deportations destroy our families." (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
Janna Hakim, 18, and her brother Sulaiman Hakim, 17, shows a picture of their mother Faten on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2012 in New York. On Aug. 13, 2010, Faten was taken away from home by ICE officials and deported to Ramallah, Palestine. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
In this March 1, 2012, children and their families take an adaptation course at the Binational Program for Migrant Education in the northern border city of Tijuana, Mexico. The program aims to ease the trauma of children who were deported from the United States and help them retake their studies in Mexico. In the foreground is Roxana Gomez from Guatemala, who is now studying the fourth grade at a primary school in Tijuana. (AP Photo/Alex Cossio)
In this photo taken April 23, 2012, a man who identified himself as Victor, left, sits on the stairs waits at the Casa del Migrante shelter for migrants, in Tijuana, Mexico. This haven for migrants that once sheltered mostly young people heading to America, full of hope, is now predominantly filled with men aged 30 to 40 years. Victor is staying at the shelter after he was deported from the U.S. and will try to cross back into the U.S. to reunite with his family. (AP Photo/Alex Cossio)
This undated photo provided by Felipe Montes via the Applied Research Center shows Montes and his wife, Marie Montes, and one of their three boys. When immigration agents deported Montes to Mexico two years ago, his three young sons _ American citizens _ were left in the care of their mentally ill, American-born mother. Within two weeks, social workers placed the boys in foster care. Montes and his wife want the children to live with him in Mexico, saying they are better off with their father than with strangers in the U.S. He works at a walnut farm and shares a house with his uncle, aunt and three nieces. But child welfare officials have asked a judge to strip Montes of his parental rights, arguing the children will have a better life here. Such a ruling could clear the way for their adoption. (AP Photo/Felipe Montes via the Applied Research Center)
In this Saturday, June 30, 2012, Juan C, 17, left, teaches his brother Miguel, 13, to box outside their home in Phoenix, Ariz. Juan was born in Michoacan and came to United States with his parents when he was 2-years-old. Flores who wants to become a professional boxer hopes to qualify for President Barack Obama Deferred Action program but he doesn't know if his charges for doing graffiti when he was younger will get in the way. Juan's father was deported five months ago and he has mixed feelings about applying for Obama's plan. (AP Photo/Nick Oza)
In this Tuesday, July 10, 2012 photo, Maria del Rosario Leyva, left, who returned with her 3-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl from Santa Ana, California last year after their father, Marco Antonio Iglesias, right, was deported, try to get their children's U.S. birth certificates stamped by Mexican authorities in Malinalco, Mexico. Because of the Byzantine rules of Mexican and U.S. bureaucracies, tens of thousands of U.S. born children of Mexican migrant parents now find themselves without access to basic services in Mexico - unable to officially register in school or sign up for health care at public hospitals and clinics that give free check-ups and medicines. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)
Norma Ramirez, center, in wheelchair, is embraced by her mother, Guillermina Clemente at the airport in Acapulco, Mexico, Monday April 16, 2012. Ramirez, an undocumented Mexican worker living in North Carolina who was facing an order of deportation, returned to her Mexico despite the fact that the Mexican consulate in Raleigh obtained a stay of her deportation order, when she learned she has terminal cancer and did not want to leave her U.S. born children alone in North Carolina. At left is the father of Ramirez, Margarito Ramirez Marquillo.(AP Photo/Bernandino Hernandez)
In this Dec. 20, 2010 photo, Lance Cpl. Aspar Andres speaks during a news conference concerning the deportation of his father, Juan Andres in Louisville, Ky. Family friend Jennifer Franklin sits at left. The Courier-Journal reports that Andres' 41-year-old father came here illegally from Guatemala as a teenager, more than 25 years ago. He was arrested recently after he accompanied a friend to a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office to act as a translator and it became apparent to an official there that he was in the country illegally. (AP Photo/The Courier-Journal, Frankie Steele) NO SALES; MAGS OUT; NO ARCHIVE; MANDATORY CREDIT
Al Okere, a 21-year-old college student at Central Washington University, walks out of his dorm building in Ellensburg, Wash., Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012. Okere, whose father was gunned down by police in Nigeria and whose mother was deported and now lives in hiding after losing her asylum plea, is hoping to avoid deportation himself. (AP Photo/Brian Myrick)
In this Jan. 4, 2012 photo, Jesus Gerardo Noriega, front, poses with his parents and brothers at the family home in Aurora, Colo. Jesus, 21, faced deportation last year after he was arrested for driving with no license plate light. Noriega's family brought him to the United States from Mexico when he was 9. His parents and three brothers live here legally, and he graduated from high school here. He learned in December that the case against him was being closed. He is pictured with brother Brian, mother Aracely, father Ricardo, and brothers Erick and Ricardo Jr. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)
In this Jan. 19, 2010 photo, Emilio Maya, left, tries to explain his complicated immigration situation to a relative in Argentina over the internet while his father, Emilio Maya, looks on at the Tango Cafe in Saugerties, N.Y. There was a time, when Emilio and Analia Maya's little Main Street cafe thrived and their dream of life in America seemed within reach. The brother and sister had settled in this picturesque village; he joined the volunteer fire department, she translated for the police. But they'd overstayed visitor visas and wanted desperately to fix their undocumented status. How? They made a deal with the department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In return for undercover tasks, they'd get work permits and eventually a special visa, they say agents promised. Years of clandestine assignments followed, a late-night stakeout at a house of prostitution and similar risky work. Then something changed. Emilio was seized by agents, including his handlers, and jailed to await deportation next month. His sister faces a hearing, too. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Immigrants Fernando Miguel, right, with his father Rafael Miguel from Mexico, get help with documents and filling for the Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals applications at Casa de Maryland in Langley Park, Md., on Wednesday Aug. 15, 2012. Thousands of young undocumented immigrants lined up hoping for the right to work legally in America without being deported. The Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals could expand the rights of more than 1 million young undocumented immigrants by giving them work permits, though they would not obtain legal residency here or a path to citizenship. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
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In this Tuesday March 13, 2012 photo, Daniela Pelaez works on a school assignment at her home in Miami. Pelaez, who came to the United States from Colombia with her family when she was 4, is the valedictorian at the high school she attends and had been ordered to leave the country but will be allowed to stay for two more years after students at North Miami High School rallied around her, holding a protest and an online petition that collected thousands of signatures. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
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