Date of Submission

Spring 2018

Academic Programs and Concentrations

Political Studies; Latin American and Iberian Studies

Project Advisor 1

Miles Rodriguez

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Under U.S. Asylum Law a person can seek protection by proving that they have been subject to persecution on account of their : 1) political opinion 2) race 3) religion 4) nationality 5) membership in a particular social group (Nexus)[1]. The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), Federal Circuit Courts, and the Supreme Court continue to hesitate to establish “women” as a particular social group that faces persecution. The current Central American migrant crisis of women is the first challenge of this magnitude to U.S. asylum law rethinking its stance on qualifying women as a particular social group. I will explore the multiple causes for this wave of female asylum seekers and how the exclusion of women as a social group continues to disenfranchise victims of sexual crime and persecution based on gender. The effort made by these female migrants to establish their persecution on account of being women, in a region fraught with the highest rates of femicide, is met with multiple obstacles. I contend that as well as the ‘floodgates’ argument that fuels the current interpretation of U.S. asylum law against these claims, there is also another layer of opposition that consists of the historical and persisting discrimination of migrants from the Latin American region. Addressing these forces and uncovering their illegitimacy is necessary because the U.S. legal recognition of women as a particular social group in asylum law has the power to influence international policy on female asylum claims across the world.

[1] Nexus must be established in order to win an asylum claim. Establishing Nexus means to prove that you suffered persecution “on account of” one of the five grounds. - Malett, Shoshanna. “Proving the ‘Nexus’ or Reason for an Asylum Claimant's Persecution.”, NOLO Legal Encyclopedia, 2018,

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