“You Cannot Separate me from My Children!”A Mother & Father Detail Separation from Their Children at the Border

Photo credit: Associated Press. A migrant father and child, who traveled with the annual caravan of Central American migrants, rest waiting for access to request asylum in the US-Mexico border in Tijuana, Mexico


While the Trump administration stated that their policy is to only separate families when that enter the country illegally, the organization Pueblo Sin Fronteras claims that families seeking asylum at legal ports of entry are suffering the same fate, being forcibly separated from children, and kept in the dark regarding the whereabouts of their children.

Helpless, and hopeless, parents sit in detention centers worrying about the fate of their children with a recurring, horrible thought: where did they go, and why can’t we be told their whereabouts?

Human rights activists and politicians have demanded changes to these barbaric practices.

Below, are testimonials by Maria, mother of a 2 and 7-year-old, and Jose, a father of 1-year-old Mateo. Both parents detail the horrible experiences of having their children taken from them and being left in the dark.

Testimonial: “Maria”-Separated from her 2 and 7-year-olds at the border

Maria, came to the United States from Central America seeking refuge and protection. On May 2nd, she appeared before an official in the Tijuana immigration booth where she was detained with her two children. Five days later, she was separated from her children and was told they would be transferred to a shelter. Maria told Univision she was living her worst nightmare.

“On Tuesday around 8 a.m., someone called out my two children’s names. I went out to follow them and they told me, “ma’am, only they are going.”

I asked, “to where?”

They told me, “where there are more children.”

I told them, “ you cannot separate me from my children. They are mine.”

“Maria” a pseudonym used by Univision to protect the mother, recorded the audio from the detention center of Otay Mesa in California.

She told Univision that being separated from her children had been heart-wrenching especially since they are only 2 and 7.

“They gave me 10 minutes to say goodbye to them. I told them, “but why are you taking them from me?” They only told me, “where you go, they cannot go.”

“The eldest, when he heard what was going to happen started to cry. He told me, “Mommy I don’t want to go. I don’t want them to separate us.”

“The youngest one, when he saw his older sibling cry, also started to cry.”

Maria said that she had repeatedly asked the agents of the whereabouts of her children, but they did not give her the information. She told Univision that her children are somewhere in New York but she does not know where.

“I am beyond desperate. I get depressed because  I don’t have my children with me. I have not experienced a second of peace. Every night, I cry.”

Univision stated yesterday that they could not find the whereabouts of the children because the department of health and human services told them the information was confidential.

Testimonial: Father and son separation

Jose y mateo

Jose Demar Fuentes, asylum seeker, and his 1-year old son, Mateo. Jose is a 30-year-old asylum seeker from El Salvador. His son, Mateo, is a 1-year-old. They were separated in San Diego. He has been sitting in detention for 6 months without any information of Mateo’s whereabouts. Pueblo Sin Fronteras started this petition to San Diego Field Office Director – Gregory J. Archambeault U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and 2 others

Jose, a Salvadoran asylum seeker who traveled with the Central American Caravan presented himself at the U.S. border to ask for asylum. He spent days detained at the CBP, Customs and Border Patrol. Jose expected to be released on parole with his 1-year-old son. Instead, he and the others were told they would be separated from their children. His wife, Neta, obtained audio of Jose’s frantic call from the detention center:

“When we got to San Diego they told us that they were going to separate us from our children. So we formed a group because we hoped that if we stood together we would have the strength to resist. We told them no, we don’t want to be separated from our children. The second time,  they told us in a more intimidating manner that they didn’t want to use force in front of the children, but they would have to if we refused to comply. We persisted with our children in arms, crying. It was no use. They came and they took them. And we couldn’t do anything about it. I asked for permission to call a lawyer or family members. They said, no, that we didn’t have any rights.”

Pueblos Sin Fronteras reports that 4 of the fathers are currently being held at the Otay Mesa Detention Center. Officers have not provided them with information on the whereabouts of their children.

Image result for Geo group photo of bus for babies undocumented

At this moment, the health department has almost 11,000 children in government custody without their parents. This is 22% more than last month, reported Noticiero Telemundo on May 30th.

Current Children in Custody-source HHS for Noticiero Telemundo.

April 29, 2018


May 29, 2018


“The parents keep bringing them here for fear that in their countries they will become gang members or end up dead,” told Attorney Naimeh Salem to Noticias Telemundo.

The authorities report that the shelters are at 95% capacity. In Florida, shelters are preparing 1300 beds to accommodate children.

Jessica Rangel of the T.E.J.A.S group told Noticias Telemundo that Trump’s zero tolerance only benefits the owners of the hostels that charge $ 300 per child per day:

“It’s a business,” says Rangel, “as a result, they keep separating families.”



Seeking Asylum in Canada-What the U.S. Can Learn about the Canadian Process

“To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength.  Welcome to Canada.” Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau


Justin Trudeau Offers Support to Refugees With “Welcome to Canada” Tweet

Over the past year, Canada has experienced an unprecedented wave of petitions for asylum. The surge has put a strain on Quebec’s capacity to accommodate new arrivals. More than 25,000 asylum seekers were intercepted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police during the period of January 2017 through March 2018.

They crossed from the United States.

During the first trimester of 2018, asylum petitions more than doubled those filed during the same time period last year. Since the Trump administration has ended the temporary protected status-TPS, for immigrants from 4 counties, El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan,  asylum petitions to Canada are expected to rise to unprecedented numbers, stressing resources and Canada’s ability to maintain its welcoming policies.

What is TPS? How does it Affect Immigrant beneficiary groups in the US, and What is its Impact on Canada?

The U.S. Immigration Act of 1990 extended temporary protected status (TPS) to immigrants from certain countries affected by armed conflict, environmental disasters, and other extraordinary conditions. TPS has allowed recipients to live and work legally in the US until the Department of Homeland Security deems it safe to return to their countries of origin.

In some cases, people with temporary protected status  have been in the United States since the 1990s.


Skye Gould/Business Insider

Protected status for the following countries is also set to end:

Sudan: November 2, 2018 About 1,050 people benefit from TPS. Protection is set to end citing improved conditions in the country.

Nicaragua: January 5, 2019 TPS for roughly 5,300 Nicaraguans expired on January 5, but the program won’t officially end until early 2019. TPS protection followed the Hurricane Mitch devastation.

Haiti: July 22, 2019 In November, the DHS announced it would end TPS for nearly 59,000 Haitian immigrants. TPS protection followed a catastrophic earthquake in 2010.

El Salvador: September 9, 2019 Salvadorans were first granted temporary residency protections in 1990 amid El Salvador’s brutal civil war. Today, they total 260,000 approximate beneficiaries.The program was extended by Presidents Bush and Obama. The Trump administration announced its end.

In the case of Salvadorans, 88 percent are part of the US workforce and they are parents to 192,700 U.S. citizen children, according to the Center for Migration Studies, cited in the American Jesuit Review.

Other TPS  upcoming deadlines:

Nepal: June 24, 2018
Honduras: July 5, 2018
Somalia Sept. 17, 2018
Yemen September 3, 2018
South Sudan May 2, 2019

“It’s really important that Congress works to fix this situation, especially for long-term recipients that have been here for many years,” Ashley Feasley, director of migration policy and public affairs said at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “They have made so many contributions, own homes, run businesses and are leaders in our churches. These are people who we want to ensure continue to be part of our society.”

Ending TPS will cause an economic, social and familial crisis to over 400,000 beneficiaries. The effect of this massive displacement will also have serious repercussions on the beneficiaries’ home countries, and on our next door neighbor, Canada.


What has been the Effect of the Trump  Administration’s immigration policies on Canada?

Unprecedented Petition Claims & Visa Abuses

 In addition to the unprecedented numbers of asylum petition claims, Canadian officials have reported visa abuses by travelers who come to the US on a travel visa with the intention of seeking asylum in Canada.

A rise in Unofficial Border Crossings

Most of the illegal border crossings to Canada are occurring in Quebec.

Half of Canada’s 49,775 asylum claims in 2017 were made in that province.

Misinformation Campaigns

Misinformation campaigns and social media rumors that asylum seekers get a free pass in Canada have presented a challenge: “It is unfortunate that these very vulnerable people were convinced that admission as a refugee in Canada and here in Quebec would be simple, even automatic. That’s not the case at all. There is no guarantee that asylum applications will be accepted, given the strict rules that govern them,” stated Quebec’s premier, Philippe Couillard.

Fear of Deportation and Anti-Immigrant Sentiment in the US

Anti-immigrant sentiment in the U.S. is driving many to seek asylum in Canada. However, fear of deportation from the United States isn’t enough to make an asylum case in Canada.

End of TPS protection to vulnerable populations

TPS recipients from the U.S. are fleeing to Canada to avoid deportation.

Pact between the US and Canada

The pact known as the Safe Third Country Agreement between Canada and the United States requires people to apply for refugee protection in the first safe country they arrive in — under which, the US is considered a safe country.

Because of this, people who seek refugee status in Canada from the US will be turned away at official border crossings. As a result, people are bypassing official entry points and entering the country throughout remote and freezing locations, risking their lives on foot, without going through immigration.

Canada refugee

Haitian asylum seekers are about to test Canada’s refugee system in a big way. An RCMP officer announces to a group of asylum seekers that identified themselves as from Haiti that they will be crossing illegally into Canada as they wait in line to to enter at the U.S.-Canada border in Champlain, N.Y., Aug. 7, 2017. (Christinne Muschi/Reuters)

Asylum Petitions and Refugee Claims in Canada

Before the massive influx of asylum seekers, refugee claims to determine eligibility could be made within 1 day, and cases were heard by the IRB within 60 days. Looking at Quebec, specifically, the process has been greatly impacted.

While waiting for a Hearing, Asylum Seekers Can Access Multiple Services

  • Healthcare
  • Social Assistance
  • Education-Parents can enroll their children in schools. French-language pre-school, elementary and secondary school is free for children between the ages of 5 and 18, but in order to enroll, claimants need to present their Refugee Protection Claimant document issued by the federal immigration ministry.
  • They are encouraged to find a more permanent place to live since parents wanting to send their children to school face the additional barrier of needing a home address to enroll their children.
  • A permanent address also facilitates the receipt of social assistance checks, which are provided to the asylum seekers until they find jobs.

At the Border

Individuals can make an asylum claim in Canada at a port of entry, at a Canada Border Services Agency, or at an Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) inland office.

When asylum seekers arrive at the border with Canada, their identification is verified and they are taken to the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) where they undergo a health and security check and complete a Basis of Claim Form.

If the claim is determined eligible, they are referred to the Refugee Protection Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) for a hearing. During the hearing, the IRB considers each case according to the United Nations definition of a Convention refugee-which was adopted into Canadian law-and within the consideration of a person’s need for protection.

No enforcement actions are taken against people seeking asylum.

At the start of the process, asylum seekers also declare how much money they bring. Based on their financial circumstance, they are placed in one of the temporary housing centers until permanent housing can be located.

Within 21 and 35 days, they receive their first social assistance check. The wait can be longer, depending on demand, according to Paul Clarke, the executive director of Action Réfugiés Montreal.

Canadian man hugs child

Family members from Somalia are helped into Canada by RCMP officers along the U.S.-Canada border near Hemmingford, Quebec. (Paul Chiasson/CP)

Waiting for the Interview

Asylum seekers in Quebec wait for their eligibility interview in either temporary housing or by staying with family. In the meantime, they apply for social assistance— $649 per month, per person, or $1189 for a family of four —states CBC news, from Montreal, Canada.

Eligibility Interviews

The interviews are conducted by an officer from the Canada Border Services Agency or by the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship agency in Canada. The officer verifies whether the asylum seeker meets the criteria.

Once the claimants are marked as eligible for asylum, they are referred to the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) for a hearing.

Typically, cases are heard within 60 days.

What Happens During a Hearing?

During their hearing, they must demonstrate that they face a risk of torture, a risk to their life, cruel and unusual punishment or treatment, or persecution because of:

  • Race.
  • Religion.
  • Nationality.
  • Political opinion.
  • Membership in a particular social group, which can include sexual orientation, gender identity, HIV status or domestic violence.

Following the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) Hearing:

If the IRB accepts the claim, the asylum seeker gets “protected person” status. This means they can stay in Canada and apply to become a permanent resident. If the refugee claim is accepted, the person may start the process of obtaining permanent residency. If refugee claim is rejected, there is an opportunity to appeal to the IRB or the Federal Court, or the claimant may be deported.

If the IRB rejects the claim, they must leave Canada.

If the law allows, they may ask for the decision to be reviewed.

Refugee claims may be ineligible if:

  • They have been recognized as a Convention refugee by another country that they can return to.
  • Have already been granted protected person status in Canada.
  • Have arrived via the Canada-US border
  • Are not admissible to Canada on security grounds, due to criminal activities or human rights violations.
  • Made a prior claim that was rejected or found ineligible.
  • Abandoned or withdrew a previous refugee claim.


please we need a home

‘Please, we need a home’: Nigerian asylum seekers follow a well-trodden migrant route to Canada. Taxis wait at the bus station in Plattsburgh, N.Y., to take people to an unofficial border crossing into Quebec. Susan Ormiston · CBC News ·

First Forms of Assistance-Temporary Housing

After requesting asylum, they are immediately referred to PRAIDA, (Regional Program for the Settlement and Integration of Asylum Seekers in Quebec) an organization that provides assistance to asylum seekers during their first months in Canada. PRAIDA assesses each case and determines whether to send them to one of the 12 centers set up to temporarily house refugees.

olympic stadium

Canada Turns Olympic Stadium Into Welcome Center For ‘Refugees’ From U.S. IMAGE CREDITS: WIKI.


no one is

‘Thank you, God’: Asylum seekers find a warm welcome at Olympic Stadium. CBC News. A man holds up a baby during a rally in support of asylum seekers outside the Olympic Stadium in Montreal. The stadium is being used as a temporary shelter for some of the hundreds of asylum claimants pouring across the New York-Quebec border every day. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

Several temporary housing centers were set up in Montreal including one in the Olympic Stadium. Canadian Forces staff also built a camp for 1,200 people at Quebec’s Lacolle border crossing, south of Montreal, to accommodate the ongoing wave of asylum seekers.

As migrants wait to be processed. Many sleep in heated trailers and tents installed by Canadian Forces.


Asylum Seekers at the Border Getting heated trailers. Toronto Sun. Canadian Press. Tents to house asylum seekers are shown at the Canada-United States border in Lacolle, Que., Wednesday, August 9, 2017Graham Hughes / Canadian Press

Social Assistance

PRAIDA  helps newcomers find a place to live, apply for social assistance or language courses and, look for employment.

The top requests for services come from: Eritrea, Sudan, Chad, Colombia, Congo and Romania.

If the asylum seeker arrives during regular business hours, they first connect with PRAIDA. If they arrive after business hours, they are referred to the YMCA residence in Westmount.

The Y houses and feeds refugees and asylum seekers until they receive social assistance in the form of a check.

The stay is covered by a contract between the YMCA and PRAIDA.

In addition to temporary housing, a group of 140 social services organizations in Quebec also help refugees and immigrants, says Andrea Bellemare, CBC news, Canada.


The YMCA residence in Westmount where many asylum seekers stay. Photo (Benjamin Shingler/CBC). “For many asylum seekers in Montreal, the long journey includes stop at YMCA”

Community Services and Activities for Asylum Seekers

The YMCA Residence program partners with PRAIDA to provide a variety of community services and activities for the newly arrived asylum seekers:

  • French and English conversation workshops
  • Housing, immigration, job search, financial assistance and health workshops
  • Information sessions with the Sécurité publique de Montréaland discussions with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
  • A woman’s group, which helps participants break out of their isolation and empowers them through weekly meetings and activities such as arts and crafts and communal cooking.
  • Activities for families
  • Psychosocial support services

y residence

The YMCA residence in Westmount has a playroom for children. (PRAIDA)

Through the Short-Term Housing program, the Y operates a Day Centre where asylum seekers receive information and assistance throughout their immigration and integration process.

The Community Initiatives team also provides asylum seekers with:

  • an emergency locker room
  • a family room with many fun activities for children and parents
  • social and cultural outings that foster the social integration of residents and help them become more familiar with Montréal.

If they first stay with the YMCA residence program, they meet with a PRAIDA specialist the next business day. The representative assesses the asylum seeker’s psychosocial and medical needs and makes referrals accordingly.

Asylum Seekers in Canada have access to health care and social services

An asylum seeker can gain access to health care and social services free of charge. Medical coverage is handled by the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP).

Once an asylum seeker has received refugee status, he or she submits a request to receive services from the Ministry of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion (MIDI) and from the Quebec Health Insurance Board (RAMQ).

If refugee status is denied, PRAIDA helps clients:

  • Prepare a request for permanent residence for humanitarian reasons
  • Prepare for the judiciary review process of the federal court
  • Request a pre-removal risk assessment (PRRA) before being removed to the Department of Citizenship and Immigration
  • Assist with steps for their voluntary departure or removal from Canada

Obtaining Work  Permits-Who can work and how long does it take?

To obtain a work permit, asylum seekers must first meet eligibility requirements for a refugee claim. This usually happens within the first few days of arrival, but PRAIDA says the unprecedented influx has created delays of more than three months. Claimants can apply for a federal work permit, but the timeframe for obtaining a work permit is about four months and could take longer.

Delays mean claimants could face months on social assistance without an ability to get a job. The Quebec government stops providing financial assistance once a refugee claimant finds a job.

Comparing the Asylum Process in Canada and the United States

Speaking with La Opinion, renowned immigration specialist in Canada, Douglass Cannon put it this way:

“Compared to the asylum processes in the United States, the Canadian system seems more willing to give the applicant the benefit of the doubt. Our provincial governments fund lawyers for those who can not afford one. Since President Trump took office, we have seen more arrivals of people seeking asylum and many coming from the United States,” Cannon said.

“But I want it to be clear that it is not so easy and there are international agreements that forbid us to accept the majority of the refugees who come from the US by land,” affirmed Cannon.

“If you go by land through a gate, with few exceptions, they will send you back,” Cannon said.

“There are exceptions, including having family members who are already residents or protected in Canada.”

“However,  if one arrives by air or by sea, or if one enters the country in another way – illegal – then it is possible to ask for asylum.”

Compared to the United States, the Canadian system looks increasingly better to refugees.

In Canada, time limits are imposed to consider cases in a timely manner, and another difference is that “the benefit of the doubt is given to the immigrant,” said the expert.

“Here in Canada you can be recognized as a refugee even if you do not prove you are at immediate risk,” Cannon said. “The reason is that our law considers it very risky to play with people’s lives. We check that there is a reasonable chance of persecution if a refugee were to return.”

However, the Canadian government is concerned about a possible influx of more refugees and people who are losing their TPS in the United States.

“The government is worried,” Cannon said. “It does not help the international community in any way when a neighboring country changes the rules radically…it forces people to look for the most suitable countries.”


“We will continue to defend the integrity of our immigration system and remain careful stewards of an extraordinarily precious asset in this 21st-century world, which is to have a population positively inclined toward immigrants, toward refugees, understanding that being welcoming and open is a source of strength.” Justin Trudeau



When asked why they met refugees outside temporary homes with welcoming signs, Canadian activists and supporters expressed empathy and support:

“We know that in a few years there will be a net benefit because of the arrival of the folks who are here,” said local activist Jaggi Singh.

“That will be a net benefit to our society through a variety of means, through culture, through their contributions, through work, through a lot of things — we know that. We know that previous immigrant populations have done the same thing.” CBC News.


The two leaders have very different views on immigration. Getty. Canadian Prime Minister hinted that his country would continue to welcome refugees without compromising national security.

In Search of Mercy and Asylum-1,500 migrants march for their lives toward the United States

Migrantes realizan Viacrucis por México. Credito foto. Luis Gonzalez

On March 25, 2018, at 6:00 a.m. thousands of central Americans, including children, babies, adults, families and even grandparents, embarked on foot on a migrant viacrucis headed to the United States.

Their journey is described as a viacrucis, or way of the cross, comparing the migrants’ arduous journey to the different stages of suffering endured by Jesus Christ on his way to Calvary.

They are expected to arrive in the center of Mexico in approximately 30 days.

Henry Romero / Reuters. Un ‘vía crucis’ de refugiados atravesará México en Semana Santa

The director of Pueblos Sin Fronteras and Coordinator of the Migrant Viracrucis, Irineo Mújica, said that the Viacrucis, includes displaced members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTTI) from central American communities, 150 unaccompanied minors, 30 babies, some of whom are breastfeeding, adolescents and elderly among the journeyers who are estimated to total around 1,500. The pilgrimage started in the Mexican southern border city of Tapachula with the purpose of arriving in Mexico and the United States in search of asylum.

One of the coordinators of this group, Irineo Múgica, explained that this odyssey is carried out every year during Holy Week, as migrants take on their own cross in faith as they pass through Mexico.

Along the way, they suffer many hardships, from theft to even death. Women are frequently raped but keep quiet out of fear. The Mexican state governments have vowed to respect migrant rights, but migrants have told of countless cases where those who ought to protect them have joined in the abuse.

Mujeres, niños y mayores muestran el rostro más amargo de caravana migrante by EFE, Nuria Monreal Delgado

Who will defend migrants from aggression? Left with impossible choices, they endure silently for fear of repercussions.

In Tapachula, their point of departure, the migrants gather hungry and thirsty under a scorching sun. The caravans, as they are called, include many young children who are also victims of hunger, thirst, and heat.

What the mothers really want, is to find a job to provide for their children and to work without fear for their lives. They seek asylum and refuge from lives without human rights.

They are migrants from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. They will stop in the coastal municipalities of Huixtla, Mapastepec and Pijijiapan where some will take the train to continue on to Oaxaca, Veracruz, Puebla and then to the north of the country.

Theirs is a journey without prospects and filled with risks.

Parte III: La ruta del peligro por Steven Dudley

More than 200 mothers and their children embarked on the journey hoping for Mexican solidarity and support. In Guadalajara, Mexican organizations and individuals waited for them with food, water, medical care, and transportation.

Migrantes de la caravana repudian a Trump en México Por: El Debate

Six large buses, aligned in a caravan, awaited some of them. These were generously secured by private donations from Mexico and the United States with the intention of sparing mothers and young children from having to ride atop The Beast, the train ride of death.

A bordo de ‘La Bestia’, el tren que trae a inmigrantes al país de la oportunidades. Noticias Univision.

The migrants are headed to the border with the United States, where some will surrender to the authorities to request asylum. They are escaping human rights violations, including, gender violence, political and military violence, gang violence, illiteracy, lack of adequate medical care and lack of work and living wages to support their children. Women and teens are in extreme danger of violence, abuse, and death. They know that an anti-immigrant climate awaits them in the United States, but they feel they have no choice.

What do they want Mexico and the US to know?

  • The migrants want Mexico and the United States to recognize their rights as refugees according to international laws.
  • They want both countries to know they seek protection and they are not criminals.
  • They want to shed light on the humanitarian crisis that exists in their countries of Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala.
  • They want Mexico and the United States to realize the degree of crisis that they face every day in Central America.
  • They ask for respect regarding their rights; that they listen to them, and that those who need protection, receive it.

The migrants entered Mexico by the Suchiate River, which divides Mexico and Guatemala, located about 45 kilometers from this city. They began their pilgrimage at 6:00 in the morning from the Miguel Hidalgo Central Park in Chiapas. Hanging on to homemade crosses and marching shoulder to shoulder they encouraged each other with a chant:

“Migrants are not criminals. We are workers. We are international workers. Why do you kill us? Why do you assassinate us? When we are the hope of Latin America!”

Impossible Choices-Request for Asylum & Family Separation

Photo: John Moore/Getty Images. Published in Politica para Mi.

After one month and one day of travel on foot, bus, train, and multiple shelters stop, the caravan of migrants seeking asylum to the United States completed their journey from Tapachula in the frontier with Guatemala, to the border of Mexico with the United States.

Correspondents from Noticiero Univision have been following the migrants and reporting on their journey. This Saturday, Univision reported that the last buses had arrived. Migrants were very tired yet willing and prepared to surrender to the United States authorities this Sunday.

A caravan coordinator, named Alex, told Univision that “migrants do not want to invade the United States as President Trump suggested, and a confrontation with the national guard would be unnecessary. They come to ask for asylum, a legal process that is founded in the law. It is not a crime to seek asylum when you surrender at the port of entry.”

Also meeting the migrants in Tijuana were a score of immigration lawyers from various parts of the United States who traveled to the area to advise migrants before surrendering. About 40 lawyers specializing in immigration law, crossed to Tijuana, Mexico, to meet with Central American migrants.

Nicole Ramos, an immigration attorney at the site, told Univision that most migrants wanted to know what detention would be like; who is at risk of being arrested; what happens with family separation, and how to prepare for possible separation from their children.

“We put our faith in God. And he will decide,” said a migrant woman while holding a small child.

Univision reported that there are 200 mothers and children waiting in line for immigration agents and that President Trump warned that if anyone presents a false or unsupported case for asylum they would face a trial, and be prosecuted for the maximum length of sentences.

The government will not extend the welcome mat to the Central Americans, stated Univision.

Attorney Erika Pinheiro told that the majority of women and children waiting to request asylum needed guidance to prepare mentally, and psychologically for detention.

Kevin de Leon (D) Senator from the state of California, defended the migrants’ right to request asylum arguing that in our country the laws are very clear on the subject, “if you are a victim of political persecution, or violence, you are eligible to apply for political asylum status.”

The author of the sanctuary laws of California, Senator de Leon told Univision that fear tactics are being used to as a tool to deny asylum.

Earlier in February, California State Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) released the following statement relating to some recent developments in immigration enforcement:

· Tearing children from the arms of their mothers do not reflect the values of our nation or who we are as Americans.

· Children, like the 7-year-old girl taken from her mother at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, are being used as pawns by the Trump administration to discourage undocumented entries into the United States.

· The mother and her daughter fled violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo to Mexico and surrendered to immigration authorities at the U.S. border right near where I grew up. They were seeking asylum.

· While her mother is still detained in San Diego, the little girl is now being held at a youth center in Chicago thousands of miles away.

· The mother could hear her daughter screaming from another room, ‘Mommy, don’t let them take me!’

· Compassionless and callousness do not begin to describe the pain being inflicted on honest, hardworking families by President Trump and the zealots driving his immigration policies. This type of inhumane treatment, resembling that of a rogue nation, is now public policy for the United States of America.

Echoing Senator De Leon’s views, Christian Ramirez, who is running for city council of San Diego, argued that “we have a moral obligation to ensure that any person who is requesting refugee protection, can present their case before an immigration judge and that the authorities will fairly evaluate each case, before marking them as delinquents.”

The ACLU is also taking steps to fight against family separation at the border.

Marcia Facundo writes in Politica Para Mi, that the ACLU asked a judge in California to declare family separation an illegal practice. On Friday, the ACLU, sued the government of President Donald Trump for its policy of widely separating the families of immigrants seeking asylum in the United States.

Rex Huppke, a reporter for the Chicago Tribune stated that as part of the sworn statements, Michelle Brane, an attorney and director of the Migrant Rights and Justice Program at the Women’s Refugee Commission identified separation of parents from children at the border in at least 429 cases without allegation or showing that they had presented a danger to their child.

“Private” crimes of domestic violence, gender violence and femicide in Central America are upheld by government and legal structures that protect aggressors through impunity and intimidate women into silence or flight. For the women who attempt to leave and to report the crimes, the price is often death.

Noticias la Verdad. Femicidio en Mejico.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions just announced that victims of domestic violence generally won’t qualify for asylum requests in the United States. He has argued that such claims are private matters, not political ones and that the issues are arbitrary. What he should know is that by the time a woman has made the arduous journey to request asylum for domestic and gender violence, she is running for her life.

Who Qualified for Asylum until Now?

In order to be granted asylum, the applicant must show that they have suffered past persecution or have a well-founded fear of future persecution on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion, and that he or she is unable or unwilling to return.

To be granted asylum based on one’s membership in a particular social group, the applicant must show that the group is (1) composed of members who share a common immutable characteristic, (2) defined with particularity, and (3) socially distinct within the society in question. The applicant must also show that her persecution was on account of her membership in the social group, and that the government in her country of origin is unable or unwilling to afford her protection from such persecution.

Domestic Violence, Gender Violence and Femicide-Not private Crimes, but Social, Political, Economic Crimes.

Domestic violence, gender violence, and femicide are crimes of global proportions driving countless women to flee their homes in search of protection. In this report, I am focusing on the dangerous climate for women in Central American countries from where many seek protection in the form of asylum petitions in the United States. In the last week, news coverage from programs such as Univision, have addressed Session’s consideration to remove domestic violence as a valid category for asylum. At the center of the discussion is whether a “private” crime qualifies for asylum protections.

As you will read below, “private” crimes of domestic violence, gender violence, and femicide are upheld by government and legal structures that protect aggressors through impunity and intimidate women into silence or flight. For the women who attempt to leave and to report the crimes, the price is often death.

The statistics below provide evidence that based on the asylum definition above, Central American victims of domestic and gender violence in Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua and Guatemala have an urgent case for asylum. The conditions in these countries show that women are persecuted as a class; they are a part of a cognizable, particular social group, and that their immutable characteristic and reason for persecution is gender.


Domestic Violence, Femicide-Sex based hate crimes, the Case for Asylum

Violence in Honduras is a social problem that crosses all strata and conditions of sex and gender with women classified among the most vulnerable.The National Observatory of Violence (ONV), reported 22 femicides in January 2018 and 50 cases in February.

Femicides in Honduras are the consequences of extreme outbursts of domestic violence triggered by anger and jealousy, and are characterized by being carried out in cold blood with sharp weapons, fire and asphyxiation.

According to a study published by the University Institute for Democracy, Peace and Security (IUDPAS), of 500 homicides taking place in 2017 from January to August in Honduras, women led the majority of deaths with 207 deaths.

Women in Honduras live in danger of losing their lives violently every day, reports the National Observatory of Violence of the National Autonomous University of Honduras (ONV-UNAH). They are victims of many different types of aggression on a daily basis, and very few dare to testify before the authorities.

One of the most recent statistical reports of the Public Ministry (MP), indicates that, in barely 2 months, a total of 1,689 complaints about different crimes against women were recorded at the national level.

Those who dared to speak denounced harassment, kidnappings, and physical harassment. In most cases, the accusations ended in impunity.

Honduran women demand no more homicides.

Thousands of women seek help in Ciudad Mujer, a domestic violence and family abuse refuge for women in Honduras. In almost a year, care centers registered 95,263 domestic violence services in Tegucigalpa and Choloma, with 25–27 women arriving each day.

Since March 29, 2017, through February 2018, 48, 118 people have sought support.

#NotOneLess. Campaign to end Femicide. Published in Publicado en Noticias Foetra.

On average, every 14 to 15 hours a woman in Honduras dies violently, according to figures from the National Observatory of Violence of the National Autonomous University of Honduras (OV-UNAH).

“When the injuries are analyzed, the aggression, whether physical, psychological or sexual show extreme manifestations of contempt, hatred and viciousness with which a woman is killed,” said coordinator, Migdonia Ayestas. “Generally,” added Ayestas, “men are killed with a firearm, and women, for the most part, are executed with a knife, and by men.”

Wives, girlfriends, daughters, and mothers are considered a personal possession, an object, and not as a person with rights.

“This comes to such a degree that when the woman tries to separate, the man can take her life. Unfortunately, this is something rooted in machismo, which makes it look normal, “ lamented the coordinator of OV-UNAH, Migdonia Ayestas.

Stop Gender Violence.La Karishina nº 7: Acabar con la violencia de género, nuestra responsabilidad

El Salvador

Domestic Violence, Femicide-Sex based hate crimes, the Case for Asylum

In El Salvador, the first 4-month period of 2018 reflects a serious upturn in femicides. Official data show that 135 women were killed between January 1 and April 16 of this year.

Last year, between January 1 and April 30, 123 femicides were committed, according to data from the Observatory of Violence of the Salvadoran Women’s Organization for Peace (ORMUSA).

Femicides by age, first trimester of 2018.

Young women under 30 are being murdered at high rates. The Institute of Legal Medicine registered 468 femicides in 2017. The 45.08 % of murdered women corresponds to young women under 29, including 16 cases of children under 15 years.

Among the dead: peasant women, small traders, doctors, journalists, students, employees, the unemployed, and female police officers. The women were murdered mostly by men with whom they share their daily lives. In most cases, they have been killed in front of their sons and daughters, and have been shot or stabbed.

Femicides by age group, January-December, 2017.

According to ORMUSA, the disturbing trend of “punitive populism” is emerging in El Salvador, where men “counter-sue” women who sue them in domestic violence cases. This recourse is considered a form of punishment, or “legal revenge” for their boldness to confront the status quo.

Once in the courtrooms, women are condemned along with their violent husbands under the claim of “cross violence.”

Impunity strengthens the aggressors, and above all, it paralyzes the victims and sends the message to the other women that there is no point in fighting.

“I’m Afraid of Being Alone. #nomoreviolenceagainstwomen. Violencia de género: acciones y medidas urgentes por Jose Antonio Burriel


Intrafamily Violence-an Epidemic, also School, Work and the Community

Women in their twenties are the greatest victims of violence in Mexico, states El Universal Union of Guanajuato.

Women aged 20 to 24 in Mexico suffer the most from intrafamily violence in Mexico, with Queretaro ranking highest in cases of intrafamily violence committed against women in this age group.

The incidence of intrafamily violence against women is of 124.83 cases per 100 thousand inhabitants; while in the case of women from 20 to 24 years old, this indicator goes up to 230.35 percent.

According to statistics from the Morbidity Yearbook of the General Directorate of Epidemiology that measures the cases of family violence committed against women who are treated in medical institutions, Querétaro ranks first in cases of intrafamily violence that require hospitalization, with a rate of 1898.73 cases.

Guerrero and Michoacán rank second and third in the incidence of violence against twenty-year-olds with 813.19 and 556.66, respectively.

There are 12 regions that are above the national average incidence in intrafamily violence committed against women from 20 to 24 years old. These states are: Querétaro, Guerrero, Michoacán, Nayarit, Campeche, Hidalgo, Quintana Roo, State of Mexico, Tamaulipas, Baja California Sur, Colima and Chihuahua.

La Lista Negra de La Violencia de Genero en Mejico. Reports of Sexual Violence, 2017, 201, 2015.

66.1% of Mexican women have suffered aggression of sexual, physical, work or emotional form at some point in their lives, reported the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi).

Of the total number of women who have experienced physical and / or sexual violence by an aggressor other than their partner, only 9.4% filed a complaint or denounced it to any authority. 2.2% only requested support from an institution; while 88.4% did not request support or submit a complaint. Gender aggression goes largely unpunished.

En México, 2 de cada 3 mujeres han sufrido violencia de género; el principal agresor, la pareja. Protesta contra la violencia de género. Foto: Cuartoscuro.

The National Survey on the Dynamics of Household Relations (ENDIREH) measured the experiences of violence faced by women aged 15 and over residing in Mexico’s national territory in 2016:

49% of women suffered emotional violence; 41.3% had been victims of sexual assault: 29% suffered economic violence, patrimonial violence and/or discrimination; while 34% said they had experienced physical aggression throughout their lives.

In fact, the extent of violence in the country ranged from 52.4% in Chiapas to 79.8% in Mexico City in 2016.

In Mexico, assaults against women are carried out in different areas of life: in school, in the family, in the workplace, and in the community. The regions that present the highest levels of gender violence include Mexico City, State of Mexico, Jalisco, Aguascalientes and Querétaro. On the contrary, those with the lowest prevalence are San Luis Potosí, Tabasco, Baja California Sur, Campeche, and Chiapas.

According to the INEGI, the national prevalence of school violence is 25.3% and the regions with the highest prevalences are Querétaro, Jalisco, Mexico City, Aguascalientes and Oaxaca.

Of the total aggressions that occurred in the school in the last 12 months, 38.3% were of a sexual nature; 34.1% psycho-emotional and 27.7% physical.

The main aggressors in the school environment were the same classmates, and teachers. In addition, 12 of every 100 prep school women suffered abuse, harassment, harassment or sexual intimidation in the last year.

Of the women who have worked, 27 out of 100 have experienced some violent act, mainly of a sexual nature and of discrimination based on gender or pregnancy.

The most frequent type of violence at work is discrimination, sexual assaults and emotional types such as humiliation, degradation, and intimidation.

The national prevalence of violence in the workplace is 26.6% and the entities with the highest figures are Chihuahua, Coahuila, Queretaro, Baja California and Quintana Roo.

Violence against women in public or community spaces is above all of a sexual nature, ranging from offensive phrases of a sexual nature, stalking (followed in the street) and sexual abuse (groping, obscene exhibitionism).

The aggressions occurred mainly in the street and parks (65.3%), followed by the bus and minibus (13.2%), the subway (6.5%). The main aggressors are unknown people, acquaintances, a friend or neighbor, as well as the driver of public transport.

Finally, in the last 12 months, 10.3% were victims of some violent act (emotional, physical, sexual or economic-patrimonial) on the part of some member of their family. The most indicated aggressors are the brothers, the father, and the mother. The main sexual aggressors are the uncles and the cousins.


Intrafamily Violence, Sex Crimes, Child and Teen Pregnancy Epidemic

In Nicaragua, many girls and adolescents face unwanted pregnancies as a result of acts of sexual violence, according to the IACHR, the Interamerican Court of Human Rights Project. “These pregnancies are the direct and unacceptable consequence of a crime, and severely impact the lives, integrity and personal development of the victims. The State must recognize it in this way,” said Esmeralda Arosemena, reporter on the Rights of the Child for the IACHR.

64% of sexual assault happens at home. 8 of 10 victims of sexual assault are younger than 13 years old. 27% of registered pregnancies are from children and teens of whom 47% were between 10 and 14 years old. 46% of teen mothers can’t read or write. Abortion is a crime. ninasnomadres.org.

In the first quarter of this year, 16 women lost their lives in Nicaragua and almost half of them did so at the hands of their partners. This represented three more crimes for gender violence than in the same period of 2017, according to Catholics for the Right to Decide.

Another 23 women survived the femicides by thwarting these attempts in some way.

An analysis carried out by that organization through the Voces Observatory indicates that in ten of the cases the victims were aged between 35 and over 51 years.

One of the issues that most concerns the Commission (Inter-American Human Rights), is the link between poverty and gender-based violence, the IACHR reports.

“There is a high proportion of poor, indigenous and/or Afro-descendant women, most of whom reside in rural areas, who most often do not fully enjoy their human rights with respect to maternal health,” the report says. Criminalization of abortion on women in the region also affects women’s precarious situations. Nicaragua is one of the five countries in America where abortion is still penalized


Gender violence a legacy of war

Women for Human Rights in Guatemala. Photo: El Pais.

Gender-based violence is at epidemic levels in Guatemala. The country is ranked third in terms of murders of women around the world, reports, Small Arms, an agency that conducted a survey into gender violence in Guatemala. Two women are murdered there every day.

Gender violence in Guatemala is part of the legacy of violence that followed 36 years of civil war in the country, says Julie Guinan of CNN. During the conflict, atrocities were committed against women, who were used as a weapons of war. In 1996, a ceasefire agreement was reached between the insurgents and the government. But what followed was a lingering climate of terror, due to a culture of impunity and discrimination.

Some 200,000 people were either killed or disappeared during the conflict that lasted several decades, most of them came from indigenous Mayan populations, states Guinan.

The UN estimates that 98% of cases never reach the courts. In many cases, femicide — the murder of a woman simply because of her gender — is carried out with shocking brutality with some of the same strategies used during the war, including rape, torture and mutilation.

The country’s weak judicial system, a culture of machismo and a deeply rooted patriarchal society have greatly challenged the women of Guatemala. María Machicado Terán, a representative of UN Women in Guatemala published the following finding:

“80% of men believe that women need permission to leave the house, and 70% of women surveyed agreed.”

This predominant culture of machismo and an acceptance of brutality against women leads to high rates of violence.

The lack of education is also a great contributor to poverty and vulnerability. Many girls, especially in indigenous communities, do not go to school because the distance from their homes to the classroom is too far.

The most vulnerable groups in Guatemala are the Mayan girls.

Millions of women find themselves trapped in a cycle of violence. Gender based persecution drives women to flee for their lives. Protection at home and through police structures is often denied. Victims of domestic violence fight violence on two levels, at home and in their societies. In a system that does not protect them, what are they to do? As attorney General Sessions considers the case of domestic violence to grant women asylum, I hope he can see the connection between the private and the public, for they are intertwined. The case for domestic violence and asylum is not a private problem; it is a national and international humanitarian crisis.

How can we close the door?