America's Attack on Women and Children
The United States Immigration situation right now is one of the most pressing feminist issues in a first world country. There are two significant components to this that highlight how the policies are not just xenophobic, they are a direct attack on women.
The first is that US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has taken away asylum protections for victims of domestic violence. Many countries in Latin America are unable or unwilling to enforce their laws against domestic violence. In order to protect themselves and their children, women are leaving the country and fleeing to the United States where, up until this week when Sessions reversed the 2014 immigration court decision, people could seek asylum based on domestic violence. This is a direct assault on women. We are now saying that when there is state sanctioned violence against women in their own homes, they cannot come to our country to save their lives or the lives of their children.
In the U.S., asylum is available to people who have suffered prosecution (or have reasonable fear that they will) based on their race, religion, nationality, political views, or membership in a social group. Until the recent Sessions decision, victims of domestic violence were considered a social group and therefore afforded asylum protection. Worldwide, estimated rates of domestic violence range from 35% to as high as 70%. Of all homicides of women, half of them are committed by her partner. 1 in 10 girls and women have experienced forced sexual intercourse in their lives—usually at the hands of a partner or ex. With these staggering statistics, it’s no wonder that the 2014 U.S. court recognized victims of domestic violence as a special group deserving of protection. The reversal of this decision relegates women to second class persons who aren’t deserving of protection from violence.
The second component of the current U.S. immigration situation has rightly received widespread outrage. The Trump Administration has started enforcing a “zero tolerance” policy for people crossing the border without papers. This includes people who are presenting to border control officers asking for asylum. To enforce “zero tolerance,” they are arresting and detaining everyone. If it is a parent who has a child with them, as women often do, the child is being taken away from the parent. The consequences of this are horrifying. The psychological damage to a child by being ripped from their parents is severe. The American Psychiatric Association, the American College of Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the United Nations have all warned about the dangers of this practice. The United Methodist Church, Catholic Bishops, and the Episcopal Church, and other faith leaders have all condemned this human rights violation. The numbers—nearly 2000 children separated from their parents in 6 weeks—makes this a humanitarian crisis.
Reports are coming in that children are being taken for baths by officials and never returned to their parents. There was one report of a baby ripped from its mother’s arms while she was breastfeeding. Children are being taken to locations hundreds or thousands of miles from their parents with little or no contact afterwards. Parents don’t know where their children are or how they are doing. Sources are reporting that the government is considering erecting “tent cities” to house the children as current housing facilities are 95% full. The locations for these children—military bases.
Even as I write this, I can barely believe that this is really happening. These are the types of stories we read as children learning about the Holocaust and the Japanese internment camps. I was taught that it was history—a shameful history that we all learned from and would never allow to happen again. Well, it’s happening again. So let’s review the lessons:
- Silence from the general population is complicity with these crimes.
- It starts with one group and spreads.
- The longer we wait to act, the harder it will be to stop.
- The international community must become involved.
While I doubt anyone who is working for this administration will read this, I feel obligated to put out this warning: Someday people will be held responsible for the way they behaved during this point in our history. The “I was just doing my job” defense didn’t work at Nuremburg and it won’t work this time either.
Watch this space for a campaign on how you can help stop this. In the meantime, spread the word, donate to organizations working on these issues, and call or write your elected officials demanding they sign legislature outlawing this. If you live outside of the United States, call or write your elected officials demanding that they condemn these acts and draft legislature to isolate the United States until these human rights violations cease.
Women are being deported back to homes in which they will be killed. Women are having their babies ripped from their arms and disappeared. Women have to stand up to stop it.
Article by Claire Ryder
VERVE Operative USA & Humanitarian Activist