Cecilia Menjívar and Shannon Drysdale Walsh
Guatemalan, Salvadoran, and Honduran immigrant women often experience a continuum of violence. Patterns of violence begin in countries of origin through experiences with unresponsive legal systems and institutional inequalities, continue along migration routes, and resume after arrival within the United States. This chapter focuses on these harms through the lens of legal violence – the normalized but cumulatively injurious effects of laws at different stages in the migration process. Although manifestations of violence vary by context, the authors analyse gender-specific reasons for these women’s migration, their experiences during the journey, and their interactions with the US justice system upon arrival. While other analyses focus on individual acts of violence, the authors instead use the lens of legal violence to analyse legal structures and institutions that implicitly and explicitly shape most aspects of these immigrant women’s lives.