March is Women’s History Month—a time to celebrate women’s achievements. This year, women deserve applause just for soldiering on.
COVID-19 hit everyone hard, but women in particular have suffered serious damage. As a result of the pandemic, millions more women than men lost or had to leave their jobs; today, women’s labor force participation rate is at its lowest level since 1988. With vaccine rates rising, COVID infection rates ticking down and some states opening up for business, women see a glimmer of light at the end of this dark tunnel. Government shouldn’t stand in the way of this progress.
Unfortunately, the surge in illegal and attempted entries at the southern border—the direct result of policies instituted by President Joe Biden—threatens to do just that. Typically, when there is a border surge, debates about immigration policy focus on balancing our desire to help those in need with the potential economic effect and drain on resources—especially in border towns.
Today, however, border policies must also solve broader questions of public health. The very nature of modern migration long ago turned every town into a border town, and every state into a border state; the pandemic, and the Biden administration’s reckless actions, have now made the situation even more precarious. While travelers by air to the U.S. (including American citizens) must have a negative COVID-19 test or proof of recovery to enter, those crossing land borders—including those entering illegally—do not need to demonstrate they are COVID-free. In fact, due to executive orders issued by the Biden administration, immigration officers at the border are now releasing those illegally entering our country without a COVID test. One border town, Brownsville, Texas, offered rapid COVID tests to migrants passing through and reported that 108 tested positive, though they were still allowed to travel across the country.
This policy makes no sense and threatens to derail our recovery. The Biden administration should immediately end this policy and ensure that those entering our country over land, including migrants, face the same COVID screening procedures and quarantine orders as passengers arriving by air.
Likewise, continued school closures stand in the way of American women who are trying to regain their footing after this difficult year.
Anyone who cares about equality and opportunity should be alarmed that, while private schools throughout the country have overwhelmingly succeeded in providing five-day-a-week services to students, millions of public schools students remain home—and, as a result, so do many of their parents. Administrators and teachers at private, parochial and even some public schools have spent the past year proving that with a little effort, safe reopening is possible. Local governments should insist that their districts follow that example. If public school systems are unwilling to do so, it’s time to give the funding meant for individual children to their parents so they can enroll their kids elsewhere—and caretakers can get back to work. Without realizing it, by choosing political power plays over working moms, teachers unions and liberal politicians have spent the past year making the case for school choice!
Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, American women were thriving. Yet, Congress today is considering measures that would jeopardize that very progress.
The so-called Equality Act purports to protect transgender individuals from discrimination—a worthy goal. But rather than target specific acts of discrimination against transgender individuals, the Equality Act changes the definition of “sex” under federal law to mean “gender identity,” a broad and undefined category that swallows legal protections for females. Should it pass, the Equality Act would open up all single-sex facilities and programs—including women’s sports teams, battered women’s shelters and programs for women and girls in science—to anyone who identifies as a woman or a girl. How is this fair to biological females?
Congress is also trying to revive the 1970s-era Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). But today, our Constitution and numerous state and federal statutes already prohibit sex discrimination. Adding the harmful ERA to our Constitution now would require that government treat women and men not just equally, but the same, irrespective of circumstance. It would therefore prohibit single-sex sports teams, dorms, bathrooms and sororities at public institutions. It would require the state to incarcerate men and women in coed prisons, and prohibit the state from operating single-sex shelters.
Women deserve better. Women have achieved so much in this great country, and the future should be even brighter. Let’s not jeopardize this progress with bad government policy.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn, a Republican, is the senior U.S. senator from Tennessee. Carrie Lukas is president of Independent Women’s Forum.