March 2019 – Across the globe, one person is forced from his or her home every two seconds, a grim trend that has culminated in an estimated 68.5 million people displaced across the globe, the largest levels of human displacement on record. Statistics indicate that women and girls migrate as much as men and boys, comprising 48% of all migrants at the global level, and female migrants now outnumber male migrants in the Americas. The forces driving people to flee their countries—war, persecution, poverty, and climate change—impact everyone. Yet women and girls—along with members of the LGBTQ community—face unique forms of discrimination. This includes threats of gender-based violence and discrimination at every point along their migration journeys. Gender-based violence experienced in one’s home country is often a factor driving migration; may be a “price” of transit; is experienced where migrant women work; and by state actors, including in detention.
Women comprise around half of the people currently living in the United States with vulnerable temporary immigration status, comprising a majority (nearly 53%) of those with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and around 44% of those with Temporary Protected Status (TPS). In addition, women comprise 47% of the undocumented population. Policies designed to support and protect migrants’ human rights must recognize that migration is very much a gendered phenomenon.
Gender-based violence and impunity have driven thousands of women and families to migrate from Central America in recent years. Adult female apprehensions at the US/Mexico border increased by 93% from 2011-2017, while girls accounted for 32% of child apprehensions.
It is important to remember that migrant women are not a ‘vulnerable’ population in need of ‘protection’. Rather, migration policies and systems have put women, girls and members of the LGBTQ community in a situation of vulnerability. To change this pattern, International migration governance and U.S. immigration policy must center the voices of women, girls, and members of the LGBTQ community. Alianza Americas, a network of 50 immigrant-led organizations representing more than 100,000 families across the United States, has spent more than a decade brokering a transnational conversation about the gendered realities of human mobility in the Central America- Mexico- US corridor.
A toxic mix of long-term trends and new anti-immigrant policies have put asylum and other humanitarian protections increasingly out of reach for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence . This is a complex problem that will not be solved overnight. However, there are at least three actions that should be taken immediately: