Cecile Richards stands with the thousands of Dreamers asking Congress for a clean Dream Act, legislation that would give young immigrants a path to citizenship without stipulations that could harm immigrant communities.
The president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America expressed solidarity with Dreamers in an essay for Time magazine, published Wednesday. Richards said reproductive justice and immigrant justice go hand in hand.
Many undocumented women seek care at Planned Parenthood, she said, “because our centers are one of the few affordable places they can go, regardless of status, and feel comfortable seeking the care they need.” But many others, she added, forgo treatment for fear of detention or deportation.
“Fear stands in the way of undocumented people seeking out health care professionals for treatment of illnesses and basic reproductive care including birth control,” she wrote. “The simplest necessary actions like going to the doctor, picking up a prescription or getting health insurance can become practically impossible. Today, immigrant communities have higher rates of unintended pregnancy and cervical cancer, and some have higher rates of HIV. Almost half of non-citizen women of reproductive age with low incomes lack health insurance.”
“At Planned Parenthood, we understand that reproductive justice and immigrant justice are part of the same fight,” she added. “Because when women can share their medical histories openly and access reproductive health care without fear, they are better able to build healthy families, participate in the workforce and control their destinies.”
In September 2017, President Donald Trump announced he would rescind the Obama-era program Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) that protects undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. His decision will leave the nearly 700,000 DACA-recipients, known as Dreamers, at risk of deportation. Trump gave Congress until March 5 to act before an estimated 1,000 people per day begin losing protections, although some DACA-recipients have already been affected.
Two federal judges have issued preliminary injunctions blocking Trump’s cancellation of the DACA program, as the White House and many congressional Republicans attempt to use the deadline to add stipulations into a Dream Act that would also increase funding for border security, a border wall, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids and detention centers.
Activists have been pushing for a clean Dream Act in response, one that doesn’t punish immigrant communities, with Richards echoing their sentiment in her essay ― in which she notes that Dreamers “enrich and strengthen our country, and they deserve better than to be used as a political bargaining chip.”
Last month, Richards announced she would be stepping down as president of Planned Parenthood this year after more than a decade of leading the organization.
Read Richards’ full essay on Time.com.