This set of papers also examines the limits of justice within the refugee and asylum regimes of the international community and North America through examining the continuum of violence faced by migrant women and families. The first paper explores the basis upon which Canada views refugee claims from Mexican women seeking safety from domestic violence as unworthy. Though thousands of Mexicans have submitted refugee claims in Canada in recent years, the majority have their claims denied for failure to prove that their home country failed to protect them.
The second paper uses constructivist grounded theory to investigate the process of migration for Central American migrant women experiencing domestic and sexual violence. The summer of 2014 brought a re-institutionalization of for-profit family detention practices in the U.S. immigration system, resulting in the incarceration of thousands of migrant women and children who fled violence in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. These practices parallel other violence women experience prior to and during migration and the strategies used by a variety of actors to control women. They also reflect a widespread climate of impunity and lack of access to justice.
The third paper considers the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) requirement that individual refugees fit one of seven descriptive categories in order to be recommended for permanent resettlement in a third country. The categorization of individuals artificially compartmentalizes complex traumatic experiences and these assignments quickly lose meaning in the resettlement process. This paper explores the impact of these policies and practices on refugee women seeking to rebuild their lives in the U.S. based on a recent exploratory study conducted with Congolese women resettled under the at-risk category.
Each of the papers will raise questions regarding social work practice and the role that national and international humanitarian policies play in ensuring the safety and well-being of a growing number of migrants who are vulnerable to being irregularized as undocumented immigrants.