The Path of Most Resistance: Resisting Gang Recruitment as a Political Opinion in Central America’s Join-or-Die Gang Culture

Comment by: Ericka Welsh

44 PEPP. L. REV. 1083 (2017)

In recent years, increasing numbers of asylum-seekers from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador crossed into the United States, fleeing gang violence that has driven homicide rates to record levels.  These countries, known collectively as the “Northern Triangle,” now make up one of the most violent regions in the world.  Transcending petty crime, gangs control entire communities in the Northern Triangle where they operate as de facto governments beyond law enforcement’s control.  Gangs practice forced recruitment in these communities, creating a join-or-die gang culture where resisting recruitment is tantamount to opposition.  Opposition, in turn, is met with brutal retaliation.

The young men and women who refuse to join are fleeing to the United States and seeking asylum.  However, United States courts routinely reject these asylum applicants under a restrictive interpretation of political asylum, failing to recognize the current realities of gang culture in the Northern Triangle.  This Comment reviews gang-based political asylum claims under the courts’
restrictive interpretation, analyzes these cases in their socio-political context, and explores a path to political asylum under a holistic asylum framework.  Ultimately, this Comment advocates for an approach that properly accounts for the socio-political realities of the region while realigning federal asylum law with its original humanitarian and protective purpose.

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Sexual Violence as an Occupational Hazard & Condition of Confinement in the Closed Institutional Systems of the Military and Detention

Article by: Hannah Brenner, Kathleen Darcy, & Sheryl Kubiak

44 PEPP. L. REV. 881 (2017)

Women in the military are more likely to be raped by other service members than to be killed in combat.  Female prisoners internalize rape by corrections officers as an inherent part of their sentence.  Immigrants held in detention fearing deportation or other legal action endure rape to avoid compromising their cases.  This Article draws parallels among closed institutional systems of prisons, immigration detention, and the military.  The closed nature of these systems creates an environment where sexual victimization occurs in isolation, often without knowledge of or intervention by those on the outside, and the internal processes for addressing this victimization allow for sweeping discretion on the part of system actors.  This Article recommends a two-part strategy to better make victims whole and effect systemic, legal, and cultural change: the use of civil lawsuits generally, with a focus on the class action suit, supplemented by administrative law to enforce federal rules on sexual violence in closed systems.  This Article strives to break down the walls that separate these different closed systems into silos, toward an end of shifting laws and policy to better address the multi-faceted problem of sexual victimization.

 

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