I believe that if enough reasonable people speak up in support of a woman's right to breastfeed her child in public, then we may just be able to change Arizona state law to protect this basic human right to feed our children. Perhaps one day, Tucsonans can look forward to a future full of bright, healthy, happy children being raised by mothers who have not had to deal with the fear of arrest or the stigma that comes with a prohibition on public breastfeeding.
Instead, Martha should be the poster woman for an informed debate about the role of immigration in American society. What would that debate include? First, Martha did not leave Honduras for California or New York--traditional destinations of immigrants. She was headed for North Carolina, where her sister was already living. It may surprise some to learn that between 1990 and 2000, the U.S. Census reported a 394 percent increase in the Hispanic population in North Carolina. Second, it is unlikely that she will be picking lettuce, the kind of job often cited as an example of what Americans won't do. Third, Martha was the beneficiary of a public policy which compels hospitals to treat those in need of emergency medical care, at a time when increasing numbers of American workers are losing their medical coverage.
The debate should not be about which immigration reform proposal (guest worker, open borders, etc.) can best match undocumented aliens with jobs that "nobody wants." It should be about why America has so many jobs that "nobody wants," or why the jobs that people do want are now located abroad.
The debate should not be about whether the federal government, state governments or local hospitals should absorb immigrant medical costs. It should be about how America can structure medical care for workers and citizens alike.
Let's move beyond the "humanitarian versus racist" debate and confront the real issues.
BORSTAR has saved many lives. However, it is the United States government's policy that forces people to cross through the most dangerous parts of the desert, simply in search of work to support their families. What a blessing for Marta that another family was willing to give up so much in order to help save her life. No one should be left behind to die in the desert.
The question for each of us is: Would we have done the same? This crisis cries out for all of us to give humanitarian aid to those who are suffering. Two No More Deaths volunteers were arrested in July for giving humanitarian assistance to migrants who had become ill and were left behind in the desert, and they now face charges.
It should never be a crime to give humanitarian aid or to save a life. Call or write U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton--(602) 514-7500--and ask him to drop the charges against Shanti Sellz and Daniel Strauss.
Cletis Harry Beegle