Everyone deserves to live a life free from violence. That’s why at Tahirih, we believe that people seeking safety in the U.S. should be met with an asylum system that understands the trauma they have endured, instead of exposing them to more harm.
Unfortunately, that is not the case for survivors of gender-based violence who arrive at the southern border seeking protection here in the United States.
A new report by the Tahirih Justice Center and Oxfam America reveals how common it is for people seeking asylum to experience gender-based violence in Mexico while waiting to access the asylum process in the U.S.
In Surviving Deterrence: How U.S. Asylum Deterrence Policies Normalize Gender-Based Violence, we explain how survivors seeking asylum endure further atrocities and exploitation because of policies that were designed to discourage people from seeking asylum in the U.S.
“The risk of violence at the border for women, girls, and LGBTQIA+ people is so high that they have come to expect it as a condition of seeking asylum in the U.S.,” said Irena Sullivan, Senior Immigration Policy Counsel at the Tahirih Justice Center and one of the report’s co-authors.
The report makes several recommendations for how the U.S. government can make the process of seeking asylum safer and more responsive to the needs of those who have experienced severe acts of violence and trauma.
“Instead of policies that discourage – or even punish – survivors for attempting to access asylum in the U.S., we need an asylum system that welcomes survivors of violence and ensures they can easily access the legal and humanitarian resources they need to begin to find stability and safety,” said Casey Carter Swegman, Tahirih’s Director of Public Policy.
- Establishing welcome centers for people seeking asylum to access trauma-informed legal and social services
- Explicitly recognizing gender as an independent ground of asylum
- Eradicating racial bias across all U.S. immigration agencies
- Supporting alternative pathways for processing refugees, and
- aligning U.S. immigration and asylum policies with U.S. foreign policy goals that seek to promote women’s economic and social empowerment.
Read the report in English or Spanish.