Jonathan Wolfman's Blog

Jonathan Wolfman

Jonathan Wolfman
Maryland, Northwest of The District,
January 26
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JANUARY 6, 2013 10:15AM

Women, Foreign & Domestic, in Imminent Danger

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     The 9th Federal Circuit Court of Appeals [western states] not too long ago ordered immigration judges to look anew at every asylum request from a class of potential immingants as to whether claims for immediate asylum have merit. The class of applicant is women.


     This breaks new ground.


     All prospective immigrant women from Central America -- and the geography may well expand -- may now be considered likely eligible for protection by the United States because of overwhelming evidence that regardless of a woman's politics (and often without regard for her social class), her life is in imminent danger because she's a woman.


     Reasons for the order include consistent and increasing evidence of widespread domestic violence and abuse and the very high and increasing rates of indiscriminate violence against women, including rising murder and attempted murder rates. U.S. Immigration Courts already look hard at claims by young women who fear ritual genital cutting but this judicial order goes further.


     Of course, many might argue that we're not here to protect women from foreign misogyny. Yet people who do argue that align themselves historically with the kinds of Americans who, in former generations, would have denied asylum to most of our own grand- and great grandparents, many of whom suffered pogroms and other consistently foul and often near-lethal treatment in Western or Central or Southern Europe, Northern, Western, Southern, or South East Asia, South or Central America, and the Near East, or Africa.


     Our judiciary should, in all nine federal circuits, and our coming, well overdue legislative immigration reform, ought to welcome women whose lives are at risk regardless of the numbers of Americans we know won't.

     We should note this, as well: our own freakish 112th Congress quite deliberately just allowed the 1994 Violence Against Women Act to expire. The VAWA helped protect American women, our own citizens, from domestic violence. Why did the House let the legislation die? It did so largely because VAWA would now also support community groups working to stem violence in lesbian relationships as well as in straight ones. No matter that domestic violence incidents did, in fact, decrease after the law was enacted. Funding organizations in the proposed, renewed law, groups whose work includes efforts to blunt domestic violence in lesbians' households as well as in straight ones proved, for this sordid right-wing House, one step too far toward dignity, equality, and justice.

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Giving Asylum to protect women regardless of the reason ain't all that bad. R