Methods: We use feminist, intertextual analysis (Bazerman, 2003; Fairclaough, 1992; Fonow & Cook, 2014) to analyse the construction of gender-based violence in refugee determination and ‘safe’ countries in Canadian policy documents and refugee decisions. Our sources of data include: 1) 84 negative decisions published by the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) for Mexican refugee claimants fearing gender-related persecution between 2007-2012, 2) IRB official reports on country conditions in Mexico published during the same period, and 3) a review of governmental and non-governmental reports in Mexico that address the status of violence against women in Mexico. Our analysis of the IRB decisions focused on: the types of violence reported in the refugee claim and the IRB’s basis for denying the claim due to one or more of the following: lack of credibility, unable to demonstrate the lack of state protection, and lack of evidence that the claimant sought an internal flight alternative.
Results: Our analysis illustrates: a) the increased burden of proof for refugee claimants from “democratic” countries, b) that gender-based guidelines are given cursory attention in cases related to domestic violence, c) and the disconnect between reports of general insecurity and violence against women in Mexico with the Canadian government’s consideration of Mexico as a “democratic” and thus “safe” country.
Conclusions and Implications: This paper will discuss implications for safety and justice for Mexican migrants in North America and the limits of refugee protection for domestic violence related persecution. We will draw connections to the broader humanitarian crisis in North America due to increased forced migration out of Central America and Mexico, into the United States and Canada with implications for social work practice, domestic and international policy advocacy.