This Week in Women: Unpacking the Trump Administration’s Shameful Immigration Policies

This Week in Women is part of a series produced in partnership between Ms. and the Fuller Project for International Reporting. This column is also part of a newsletter; sign up here to receive it regularly.

This Isn’t a Private Matter

Jeff Sessions’ decision on Monday to no longer consider domestic violence as grounds for asylum in the U.S. provoked fury and debate this week. The ACLU argued it was a death sentence for women, while this piece asserted that allowing domestic violence asylum claims would only open the floodgates for victims of any violent crime to request asylum in the U.S.

The Marshall Project’s Julia Preston had a smart overview looking at the years of legal action undertaken to establish violence against women as a crime meriting asylum in the first place.

Meanwhile on Twitter, astute women’s rights advocates like attorney Jill Filipovic noted how Sessions and his mostly-male team characterized domestic violence as a “private” problem. This matters. The overwhelming majority of violence against women is perpetrated by men they know, and perceiving these crimes as merely interpersonal consistently leads to lighter sentences and dismissive police responses.

Even now. Even in the U.S.

So many recent examples: In Arizona on Tuesday, this woman described her ex-husband as her “personal terrorist” who had threatened her safety for nine years. Within the last two weeks, he killed six people before killing himself. And last week, a Pakistani man who was accused of stabbing a woman 23 times was acquitted by a judge.

Fuller Project is committed to treating violence against women as a serious news story, while also investigating root causes and sharing positive community responses.

And as the Trump administration continues implementing its policy of separating parents and children at the border, “Where is our sense of decency?” asks attorney Ouisa D. Davis in an Op-Ed for the El Paso Times. Family separation is part of the Trump administration’s strategy of weaponizing children to deter illegal immigration, by Fuller Project’s Rikha Sharma Rani for The New Republic.

One woman claims that immigration authorities took her daughter away while she was breastfeeding her in a detention center, according to CNN. And also by Rikha: this first-person story about a Brazilian mother separated from her 7-year-old son after she was detained in El Paso, Texas, in The Washington Post’s The Lily.

Other Stories From the Week

On Tuesday, Trump’s ceremonial meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un dominated the headlines. But behind the scenes, women-led civil society organizations have been laying the groundwork for grassroots peace and reconciliation efforts between the peoples of the two Koreas for years. Here, Christine Ahn, head of Women Cross DMZ, hails the meeting as “historic” and “unprecedented.” On Wednesday, her group was awarded a $2 million grant from the NoVo Foundation to continue their work. But overall, philanthropy for peace work has waned, according to The Nation.

At the G7 last weekend, Trump may have been late to the gender equality meeting, but did it matter? The lineup of powerful women at the table spoke volumes as to how far world leaders have come in recognizing the importance of ending oppression of women. Here for the Council on Foreign Relations, Lyric Thompson offers the details of what really got done at the G7 for women.

Prenatal care is the single most important step to ensuring a healthy newborn baby. Here, a 5-minute video on midwives at the border by Fuller Project journalist Raji Ram in partnership with AJ+.

In the Alabama special election that drove Democrat Doug Jones to victory, black women turned out to vote for Jones in high numbers, prompting many in the media to praise them as saviors. But “if black women will save us, who will save black women?” asks The Root’s Tamika D. Mallory.

NatGeo interviewed two filmmakers who created a documentary on the challenges for one woman fighting for her career as a conservationist in Zimbabwe. “Women in developing countries face barriers that are a little bit more hidden and a little bit more subtle,” says filmmaker Gabby Salazar.

South Korean women are protesting human rights violations in their country, including “spy cams” that film women in toilets and up skirts, according to Human Rights Watch. In a recent survey of South Korean men, 80 percent of them admitted to physically or psychologically abusing a girlfriend.

The #MeToo movement has reached a new frontier: Mongolia. The Guardian writes about a burgeoning women’s rights movement in the Asian nation in the wake of an alleged sexual assault involving a member of parliament.


Christina Asquith is former editor for Across Women’s Lives at PRI’s The World and founder/editor in chief of the Fuller Project for International Reporting, which contributed this story and which works with Peace Is Loud on women, peace and security issues.