Homeland Security: Don’t Send Sexual Abuse Victims Back Into Danger

Target: Chad F. Wolf, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security

Goal: Grant asylum to women fleeing sexual assault.

In April, a woman named Maria who had come to the U.S. illegally won her asylum case with the help of a group of Boston University law students. Growing up in Brazil she was sexually abused, and as an adult she and her children endured threats and violence from her former partner. She made the decision to come to the U.S., despite the many dangers and legal hoops, to protect her family. The judge granted her humanitarian asylum on the basis of past persecution. Unfortunately, if proposed changes to asylum policy by the Trump administration are made, similar situations of sexual violence won’t qualify asylum seekers to come to the U.S.

Securing asylum is already a difficult and confusing process. With the proposed changes, asylum seekers will have to jump through even more hoops than they did already, and they won’t be able to object to court decisions. Judges will be able to deny asylum solely based on the written part of the asylum application and there will be even higher penalties for asylum seekers who come to the U.S. illegally.

Among these many unfair changes, the rights of women and girls specifically are at stake because the new policy will deny asylum on the basis of gender persecution. Historically, asylum has been granted for victims of domestic abuse and violence. Many immigrants attempting to enter the U.S. are from Latin American nations, a region where sexual violence is particularly high. According to WHO data from 2010, 29.5 percent of women in Central America have experienced violence from their partner, compared with 21.3 percent in North America.

Immigration is a way for women to escape violence. Victims of sexual assault should be protected and granted asylum in the United States. Sign the petition to demand that immigration policy continue to grant asylum from domestic abuse.


Dear Secretary Wolf,

Many asylum seekers coming to the U.S. are women and girls escaping domestic abuse. Proposed changes to immigration policy would prevent asylum seekers from getting out of harmful situations. By coming to the U.S., immigrants who have suffered from abuse are able to get back on their feet and move on from the horrors of their past. This new policy would deny women around the world the chance for safety.

The United States has a duty to provide asylum for people in dangerous circumstances. I demand that you continue to grant asylum based on gender persecution.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Victoria Pickering

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