The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) sent out a press release today applauding President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Florida, and other co-sponsors for re-introducing the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minor Act, also known as the DREAM Act.

President Obama reaffirmed his commitment to the legislation, which would give undocumented minors who have grown up in the U.S. a path to citizenship, on Tuesday in El Paso.

According to the statement released today by the NLIRH, the act is an important step for Latina rights.

“Equality for immigrant women can only be attained when immigrant women can live free from discrimination, oppression and violence in all their forms. We believe it is imperative that organizations advocating for comprehensive immigration reform also support fair and just immigration policies that protect the rights of immigrant women.

Educational attainment is one way that Latinas can have access to information, resources and services that will help them make informed and autonomous decisions. NLIRH extends its support to the DREAM Act and the young immigrant activists and legislators who have worked to bring this bill to the forefront.”

According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy (NCPTUP), Latinas have the highest rates of teen pregnancy and the lowest rates of contraception use. A recent NCPTUP survey reported that 52% of Latina teens get pregnant at least once before the age of 20 – twice the U.S. average. Latinas also have “the highest teen pregnancy rate and teen birth rate of any major ethnic/racial minority in the country, according to the most recent data available.”

According to the NCPTUP, the birth rate among Latina teens decreased from 2007 to 2008, but only about half as much as non-Hispanic white and non-Hispanic black teens.

In 2004, the Population Resource Center reported that Latinas are getting less help from the state than other young and impoverished mothers, because of their immigrant status. “More than 80 percent of teens who become mothers receive welfare during the 10 years following the birth of their first child, 44 percent of them for more than 5 years,” says the report. “Latino groups are less likely to receive welfare, in part, because a large proportion of Latinas are immigrants who are ineligible for welfare.”

The Population Resource Center also said that, according to a 1995 study, “almost half of Latina teens aged 15-19 did not use any form of contraception the first time they had sex, compared to 29 percent of all teens.” Contraceptive use for the first instance of sexual intercourse for teens “increased from 65 to 71 percent during the early 1990s, [however,] the percentage actually decreased from 55 to 53 percent for Latino teens.”

Here is the full report from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy:

Teen Pregnancy and Childbearing Among Latino Teens

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