Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

MA in Women's History


Women’s History Graduate Program


This thesis explores the difficulties undocumented Mexican women face when reporting sexual assault and domestic abuse. I examine the history of immigration law starting from the enactment of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 until the beginning of the Trump Administration in 2016. I explore how discourse and rhetoric enforces the criminalization of immigrant groups while also “othering” them from society. I use various court cases to examine the violence immigrant women face and how their vulnerabilities as undocumented immigrants make it even more difficult to report a crime. I also analyze the simultaneous policies that were put in place during this thirty-year time span that were meant to defend immigrant women’s rights. By utilizing interviews with leaders and advocates of different organizations, I am able to fully grasp how even the resources available to immigrant women are limited by barriers of the legal system.