The Trump administration, determined to stop the stream of people to the border from Central America, may curtail or close the legal avenues to protection for abused women.
Women from Central America since 2014 have succeeded in winning asylum or other protections in the U.S. as victims of a pandemic of domestic abuse in that region. Because of cases that established fear of domestic violence as a legitimate basis for asylum, those claims often found more solid legal grounding in U.S. immigration court than claims of people who said they were escaping from killer gangs. The Trump administration, determined to stop the stream of people to the border from Central America, is moving to curtail or close the legal avenues to protection for abused women. While the #MeToo movement has swept the U.S., on immigration President Trump is going the other way, Politico and the Marshall Project report.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is leading a broad review to question whether domestic or sexual violence should ever be recognized as persecution that would justify protection in the U.S. The president started a new immigration blitz this month in response to an Easter season caravan of migrants that was trekking across southern Mexico, which included hundreds of women and their children. Trump said the caravan represented a “drastic surge” of gang members and illegal migrants that “threatens our safety” and posed a challenge to “our American way of life.” While authorizing the dispatch of National Guard troops, he ordered immigration officials to take new steps to end a policy he called “catch and release.” Trump decried the rampant sexual assault endured by women in the caravan, saying they were “raped at levels that nobody’s ever seen before.” He insisted he had been right when he said in 2015 that many Mexican migrants were rapists. Sessions told prosecutors along the border to show “zero tolerance” by bringing criminal charges against anyone caught crossing illegally.