PODCAST: What does the Trump administration’s refugee policy mean for women and how can Canada help?

Meghan Murphy speaks with Jaymie Heilman and Maria Walker about the impact of Trump’s refugee policies on Central American women.

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Many people are rightly horrified by the Trump administration’s recent move to begin separating children from their asylum-seeking parents when they cross the US-Mexico border. Recently, the US government also determined that domestic violence and gang violence no longer qualify as grounds for asylum — a change that has particularly harmful impacts on women in Central America, who are subject to extremely high levels of violence. But beyond fighting for change in the US, what can Canada do to help?

To learn more about the impact of these policies and what Canada’s role is in all this, I spoke with Jaymie Heilman and Maria Walker, who recently published an article here at Feminist Current titled, “If Justin Trudeau really cares about keeping refugee women and girls alive, his government needs to rescind the Safe Third Country Agreement.”

Jaymie Heilman teaches Latin American History and the History of Illicit Drugs at the University of Alberta. Maria Walker has an MA in Latin American Studies from Stanford University and volunteers at an immigration detention center on the US-Mexico border. I spoke with them over the phone this week.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • CanadianMoxie

    I think Canada should prioritize women and children refugees from oppressive, patriachal regimes. That would go a long way towards genuinely helping vulnerable refugees.

  • Hanakai

    Things are so much worse in the USA than just the refugee and immigration policies and things are going to get even worse and quickly. With Anthony Kennedy retiring from the US Supreme Court and T-Rump getting to appoint another rich white right-wing anti-woman Christian hypocrit and demagogue to the Court, the Court will have the votes to roll back and eliminate legal abortion, gay marriage, worker’s rights, immigration rights, environmental regulation, women’s rights, voting rights, civil rights for black and brown people

    And the Court will allow T-Rump to pardon himself when he is indicted for crimes involving treason and allowing a foreign government to interfere in American elections.

    Maybe Canada will be willing to accept refugees from the Republic of Gilead that the USA is becoming.

  • Alienigena

    Given what is happening in the US with the incarceration of migrants and the separation of children from parents (some of whom may never be re-united with their parents given the issues with record keeping) I think it is legitimate to suggest some of the younger women, teens and children may be trafficked into the sex industry. I follow Julie Bindel on Twitter and found a link to her article on the sex industry and the language used to sanitize it and rehabilitate its reputation in the popular imagination. She links the historical sanitization of the slave trade to the current PR around the sex trade (as just another career option).

    “Reminiscent of the tactics used by contemporary pimps and brothel-owners to sanitise the sex trade, for example referring to commercial transactions between older men and teenaged women as ‘sugar daddies’ and ‘sugar babes’, it is well-documented that slavers’ similarly attempted to sanitise the slave trade by repackaging it as simply ‘labour’. For example, in a letter dated 1 April 1789, a pro-slavery strategist in the West Indies suggested: ‘Instead of “slaves”, let the Negroes be called “assistant-planters”; and we shall not then hear such violent outcries against the slave trade by pious divines, tender-hearted poetesses, and short-sighted politicians.’”

    It is really quite chilling how an ignorance of history translates to collective stupidity around maltreatment of women and girls. Females don’t seek out sexual and physical assault and conditions that degrade them unless they are mentally ill (yeah, prostitution and porn is not just some sexy fun, and I think if you are a masochist in the BDSM equation you are mentally ill, and the sadist is a sociopath). Coercion is almost always involved.