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Defend Asylum for Survivors of Gender-Based Violence: Please JOIN MUA and submit your comment of opposition by July 15

Please JOIN MUA and submit your comment of opposition by 8:59 P.M. Pacific Time on JULY 15 (Before MIDNIGHT Eastern Standard Time)

As many of you know, ever since the attacks on gender-based asylum started coming from the Trump administration, MUA’s leaders have been fighting to restore the right to asylum protection to women who come to this country fleeing gender-based violence such as domestic violence. And many of you joined us in the past to demand that our local governments stand up in solidarity with these asylum seekers in our communities in the Bay Area.

We ask you to join us again!

What We Need You To Do

After catching-up on the latest attacks from the Administration below, we need you to submit your very own unique and individual comment expressing opposition to the rule.

Submit Comments Here

  • You’ll need to provide your first and last name, but providing your contact information is optional and you can also submit comments on behalf of a third party, to help protect those among us who are not safe providing their name to the Federal Government.
  • All comments must be submitted in English (or with a certified English translation).
  • Organizational comments are best submitted in the form of an official letter written on your letterhead and submitted as an attachment.
  • Your comment should express in your own words why you believe this rule change will harm immigrant survivors, which could include you, your family, your clients, or your community; or express in your own words why you oppose such a rule, which will effectively eliminate protection primarily for women and LGBTQ-identified survivors of rape, domestic violence, femicide, human trafficking, female genital cutting or a forced heterosexual marriage.
  • SAMPLE COMMENTS: Here are some resources to help give you ideas on your comments. Just remember that it’s important for you to put your comment in your own words!
    1. Tahirih Justice Center (focuses on asylum for survivors of gender-based violence)
    2. Alliance for Immigrant Survivors (template for advocates working with survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault)
    3. HIAS
    4. Immigration Equality (focuses on the rule’s impact on LGBTQ refugees)
    5. Human Rights First

Excerpt from MUA’s Letter to the Government

MUA has always been a safe space for women fleeing from domestic violence, sexual assault, and other forms of violence. Over the past couple of years, more and more women have joined our community who have recently arrived in the U.S. fleeing from these and other threats in their home countries. They have come to the Bay Area seeking safety and a chance for a future for themselves and their children. MUA’s mission is to provide a refuge for these women, where they can embark in a process of personal transformation.

MUA’s members have fled their home countries, not because they wished to do so, but because their and often their children’s lives were at grave risk there. They survived horrendous acts of violence, sexual assault, as well as threats against their lives should they ever defy the persecutor. Many of them sought help, even from the police. And when they spoke to a Police Officer, he would laugh at them and tell them that private matters where none of his concern. This story is all too common.   

“We came to this country looking for protection that our own counties would not give us. Instead, we are rejected and our stories are not believed. We need your help so that our stories and our struggles will be known. We need to fight for asylum protection so that many of us may remain in this country and have a future. Because if not in this country, then where shall we go? Our countries did not protect us. We wish others, and especially those who govern, could walk in our shoes and go through what we have gone through. Then, they would understand.”  – The Committee of Defensoras de Mujeres Unidas y Activas (Defenders of MUA).

Women like these deserve the protection of our laws so that they may live. So that they may recover from everything they have suffered in order to get to our shores in search of hope. So that they may remind us that human life is precious and that each one of us has a moral obligation to protect all of us. They deserve their day in court, in a legal system with a longstanding tradition of honoring due process.  Only then, can the U.S. righteously hold itself up as being a nation that believes in and respects Human Rights.

When the right to asylum was established and agreed to by nation states around the world, the intention was to provide protection for people facing persecution because of fundamental aspects of their humanity that they could not or should not be required to change. Gender or gender-identity and sexual orientation are such fundamental aspects of each of our personhood. And women and LGBTQ-identified individuals have long experienced disdain, abuse, cruelty and violent attacks against our existence. Governments have failed to protect us. Police agents have been complicit in the attacks against us. Even our own communities and families have at times failed to protect us. Denying asylum to survivors of gender-based violence not only minimizes the atrocities they have experienced, it sends a message to our nation and to the world that what their persecutors did to them is acceptable.

“The U.S. Government is justifying violence against women the same way as my abuser used to justify it. They are exercising their patriarchal power and, as we say in my culture, their ‘machismo.’” – Anonymous MUA Member Leader, Recipient of Asylum Protection

More on the Recent Attack We Are Fighting Against

On June 15, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a proposed rule that would make sweeping changes not only to the eligibility requirements but also to the process for seeking asylum and other similar protections in the U.S..

Most alarmingly, the proposed rule effectively eliminate “gender-based asylum” altogether by expressly excluding from asylum eligibility those who suffer persecution on account of gender, such as women and LGBTQ-identified individuals who have experienced rape, domestic violence, femicide, human trafficking, female genital cutting or a forced heterosexual marriage. It narrows eligibility criteria to deny protection to feminist activists and others who fight for equal rights in matters of education, employment, and other spheres, even when those activities make them targets for brutal retaliatory violence and oppression. It makes the protections of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) inaccessible to some immigrants who are facing expedited deportation. And it removes protections against disclosure of information, potentially allowing abusiers to obtain survivors’ information.  This proposed rule It is a death sentence for thousands of asylum seekers, and may endanger the safety of the many MUA members who have pending asylum cases.

 

Your voice matters!

The government will be required to consider and respond to every individualized comment that is submitted. The more unique comments they receive, the longer it will take them to begin denying asylum cases.

 

Contributor

Lourdes Martinez

Lourdes Martinez

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