October 18, 2021 Press Release


October 18, 2021

Contact: equityfwd@conwaystrategic.com

(202) 888-6169 ext. 125

NEW REPORT: Cruelty and Control: Reproductive Rights and Health Care in the U.S. Immigration System

Today, Equity Forward releases Cruelty and Control: Reproductive Rights and Health Care in the U.S. Immigration System, its first investigative report on immigrant justice. Cruelty and Control focuses on the U.S. federal government’s attacks on im/migrants’ reproductive rights, contextualized by a systemic criminalization of im/migrants and communities of color.

While this report has been in development since early 2021, its release comes at a time when the U.S. is expanding entry into the country for some im/migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees—while brutally denying access to others. Simultaneously, anti-abortion forces have increased their attacks on access to abortion, all having a disproportionate impact on communities of color.

Cruelty and Control was guided by research and analysis of primary and secondary source documents, including public records requests previously obtained by Equity Forward and informed by outreach with more than 40 advocates and researchers working at the intersections of immigrant justice and the reproductive health, rights, and justice communities.  

The report includes:

  • An overview of the federal agencies comprising the U.S. immigration system and how they exercise control;
  • Original survey responses from immigrant justice, transgender rights, reproductive justice, and racial justice advocates and experts;

  • A review of the ways in which denial of health care detrimentally affects Latino/x, Black, and Indigenous communities; and

  • A specific look at the impact on people who are young, LGBQTIA+, and/or undocumented.

“Equity Forward was founded as an accountability organization with an initial focus on the Trump administration’s attacks on reproductive health care. Since 2017, we have tracked the ways in which the U.S. government has devastated families through child separation, denied abortion care for young im/migrants, and engaged in coerced sterilization of im/migrants while in custody. We emphasize that these human rights abuses are not isolated to a particular federal agency or administration,” said Director of Equity Forward, Molly Bangs, and co-author of Cruelty and Control.  "This report analyzes the U.S. immigration system and its long, sordid history of reproductive control of communities of color, LGBTQIA+ people, and especially those incarcerated and/or held in government custody.”

“Everyone is entitled to civil, human, and reproductive rights. Yet federal agencies have far too often chosen to deny these rights, especially to those in its custody, rather than protect them,” said Equity Forward Senior Researcher, Ashley Underwood, and co-author of Cruelty and Control.  "Systems that deny reproductive autonomy thrive in darkness, causing irreparable harm. For the stories we do hear about abuse, control, and denial of care, we know that countless more never come to light. This report features the insights of advocacy and issue experts on the ground; moving forward, we will provide public records and research to support transparency, accountability, and reform of a carceral state that has been devastating for so many.”

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Equity Forward is an accountability organization that produces investigative research on domestic and global human rights, gender equity and sexual and reproductive health, rights, and justice.