Immigration Advocates Are Challenging the Trump Administration’s Anti-Woman Asylum Policies

Written by Rosalind Jones

Applicants for asylum in the U.S. undergo a screening process in which they must prove that they have “credible fear of persecution” in their home country in order to further pursue their claim in court. Gender-based persecution was previously considered cause for “credible fear”—but in accordance with Trump administration policy, survivors are now being turned away at the border.

The implementation of a so-called “expedited removal” policy by Attorney General Jeff Sessions allows immigration officers to deny claims of asylum from women fleeing domestic violence. The new policy is an effective death sentence for thousands of women and children—and advocates are fighting back.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies (CGRS) have filed a lawsuit against Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Trump administration. The plaintiffs in Grace v. Sessions are women who attempted to seek asylum as a result of severe sexual violence and domestic abuse in their home countries.

One of those women fled to the U.S. in order to escape her abusive partner—who had sexually assaulted her and her daughter for years, used her own illiteracy to his advantage in order to take the title to her home and beaten her to the point that she miscarried during pregnancy. She was eventually evicted and forced to move in with a neighbor, and after getting no help from the police, sought asylum in the U.S. Upon arrival, she was told that her experience was a “personal” incident, and not a legitimate reason to be granted asylum. She is currently awaiting deportation in a detention center.

“The courts and the international community have recognized that gender can be the basis of asylum, specifically gender-based persecution,” Eunice Lee, the Co-Legal Director at the CGRS told Ms. “The idea that the government can just shut down asylum at the border and prevent people from even getting through to having their claims heard in court is really just misguided and unlawful.”  In addition to the lawsuit, CRGS has started a movement called Immigrant Women Too— a campaign amplifying the stories and fighting for the human rights of survivors of sexual and domestic violence arriving at the southern U.S. border.

As of August 9, a federal court temporarily blocked the deportation of immigrants who are fleeing domestic violence and abuse in their home countries. In a hearing, it came to light that the U.S. government had ordered that a mother and daughter be placed on a deportation flight to their home country in Central America, even though the government assured that no deportation flights would be made before midnight on the ninth. Judge Emmet G. Sullivan ordered that the plane be turned around, declaring that it was “unacceptable” for a person to be deported while her attorneys were in court on her behalf, and issued a stay from the bench—temporarily blocking the deportation of asylum seekers that are fleeing domestic abuse, sexual violence or gang violence.

“In its rush to deport as many immigrants as possible, the Trump administration is putting these women and children in grave danger of being raped, beaten or killed,” Jennifer Chang Newell, managing attorney with the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a statement. “We are thrilled the stay of removal was issued but sickened that the government deported two of our clients—a mom and her little girl—in the early morning hours. We will not rest until our clients are returned to safety.”

This post originally appeared on Ms. Magazine.

Photo Credit: Fibonacci Blue/Flickr

58 comments

Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson5 months ago

Thank you.

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Amanda M
Amanda M5 months ago

Sadly, this isn't really surprising. To Twitler and the Rethuglican Religious Reich, women aren't even people-we're just tongueless brood mares, good only for breeding kids. And if we're pretty, we're "arm candy" or something boffable. And in Twitler's mindset, that even only applies to white women. If you're any other skin color, forget it-he doesn't even want you here regardless of your gender.

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Nicole H
Nicole Heindryckx5 months ago

@ Clare O'Beara : Okay, as you suggest, we will send all the Syrians back to their country. There is no water supply ; there is no electricity ; the roads are all blocked and destroyed ; bridges were bombed and completely destroyed. And then all these Syrians arrive their, and don't even have the possibility to return to their towns or villages, because - of course - there is no transport. Even if there were still busses or trains, how far would they get ?? A few hundred meters. Everything, so also roads and railroads have been destroyed. And do you think your beloved empathic son of a bitch Fuehrer TRUMPF would lend them a couple of hundred thousands dollars to start rebuilding ?? ?? ?? I do not think so. Your beloved Dictator is just wanting to make more money. Investing for road building, house constructions, etc...in a country that is totally destroyed, and without any economy or money, is not a good investment. So these people will arrive at the airport, and all die from starvation. Good solution my dear !!!

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Nicole Heindryckx
Nicole Heindryckx5 months ago

@ Clare O'Beara : your comments really were a slam in my face. MY GOD, have you never heard of the extreme Muslims, who treat their wives just as cows, to get as much calves as HE wants. For the rest, she must work, look after the children and SHUT UP. For the slightest mistake, she is beaten half dead, and when she tries and fails to leave her house to go back to her family, then 1. Her family will NOT accept her, because they know that his family will come and kill them all and 2. She will be beaten up like no one of us has ever seen. They are left in the street, and nobody dares to touch / help her, because they can expect to be killed as well within the next days. So, you think that in these areas, women DO HAVE ANY CHANCE TO STAY THERE, just move some villages away and that's it !! Oh dear, oh dear !!
I strongly recommend you to get yourself some good literature about this phenomena, and to see if you can buy or rent a film concerning these issues... You are certainly not well informed about this topic.

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Nicole H
Nicole Heindryckx5 months ago

This does not surprise me. The POTUS, Fuehrer TRUMPF, has already multiple times proven that he has NO RESPECT at all for women. Good that he has some money, as no woman would ever have married him, believe me !! In many Muslim countries women have NO VOICE. They are just like dogs, horses, etc.. they are obliged to have sexual intercourse when HIS MASTER wants so, she has to stay at home, doing her cleaning, cooking, looking after the children and THAT'S ALL. Never can she go to the market or a shop to buy groceries. HE does that. When other men come together to discuss anything at all, she and het children must leave the room and is only called in to make / serve more tea. The number of children is determined by HIM, HE decides to what schools they go, and mostly at the age of 12/14 years, girls do not attend school anymore. Women are beaten, slammed, abused sometimes on a daily basis, and she has no possibility to talk to someone about it. When they protest against HIS decisions, she is thrown out, until HIS majesty calls her in again. When she tries and fails to get away with her children, most of them are beaten to death. And all that is NORMAL !! And these women are NOT allowed to ask for asylum ??? MY GOD !! America, America, in what century do you live ????

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danii p
danii p5 months ago

thanks for sharing

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danii p
danii p5 months ago

thanks for sharing

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danii p
danii p5 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Dave f
Past Member 5 months ago

TFS

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Clare O
Clare O'Beara5 months ago

Women need better protection in their own country. If an American woman is abused by her husband does she emigrate to Canada?

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