Content advisory: This article contains factual information about sexual violence against women and girls that might be particularly sensitive for some readers.

In June, President Trump signed an executive order appearing to end his policy of separating migrant families at the border in an effort to deter undocumented immigration. But questions remain, such as whether and how families will be reunited, how the executive order will affect migrant children鈥檚 living conditions, and, especially amid reports about the prevalence of sexual abuse at detainment centers, why we鈥檝e yet to see or hear about separated migrant girls.

The issue of violence against migrant women and girls has also begun to raise questions about their reproductive rights. One border patrol official spoke to the Associated Press about the increasingly common phenomenon of migrant girls as young as 12 put on birth control pills 鈥渂ecause they know getting violated is part of the journey.鈥

In consideration of widespread sexual abuse both en route to the US border and at shelters, pregnancy caused by rape is a serious concern for immigrant women and girls 鈥 especially due to the Trump administration鈥檚 troubling history of trying to block abortion access for undocumented minors without an exception for rape. The attack is two-fold, striking at their identities as women 鈥 often even underage minors 鈥 and immigrants, and functioning to dehumanize them.

On June 4, the Supreme Court appeared to side with the Trump administration in this goal by ruling to override a Washington DC Circuit Court鈥檚 ruling from March, which ordered Trump officials to cease in their repeated attempts to block聽undocumented minors from getting abortions over the past year, and offered class-action status to undocumented minors seeking an abortion.

Lawyers for Attorney General Jeff Sessions have repeatedly argued that undocumented minors from other countries聽lack the right to get an abortion in the US except in cases of medical emergencies because, as they put it, these girls don鈥檛 have the same rights as citizens. It鈥檚 important to understand the implications of this argument.

Internal emails among officials from the Office of Refugee Resettlement reveal how Trump officials have repeatedly refused to allow undocumented teens seeking an abortion to leave detainment centers for the procedure, and even attempted to stop a medication abortion that was already underway. (Medication abortion requires taking two separate pills, with the second taken between six and 48 hours after the first.)

The denial of abortion access has always centered around dehumanizing women in favor of humanizing fertilized eggs and fetuses instead. It鈥檚 about denigrating born, living women to a lesser status than the mere idea of a child. It鈥檚 about reducing women to second-class citizens, by authorizing the government to force them to give birth. And for immigrant women, it鈥檚 also about reminding them the fundamental rights they have, even over their own bodies, are vastly different from those of citizens.

It鈥檚 estimated that six in every 10 women and girls are raped, and as many as 80 percent of female Central American migrants are sexually assaulted en route to the US. Earlier this year, The Intercept reported that 1,224 sexual abuse complaints were filed at immigrant detainment centers between 2010 and 2017, just 43 of which led to investigations. Recently, Reveal News reported that the shelters holding migrant minors separated from their parents have long histories of sexual abuse of detained women and children.

Denying detained migrant women access to crucial health care like abortion 鈥 especially when their status renders them particularly vulnerable to unwanted pregnancies 鈥 adds another dimension of cruelty to the violence they are likely to face.

If President Trump鈥檚 language about immigrants 鈥 including referring to immigrants involved in gang-related crimes as 鈥渁nimals,鈥 arguing that 鈥渢hey鈥檙e not human beings,鈥 and claiming they 鈥渋nfiltrate our country鈥 to commit rape and murder 鈥 shows us anything, it鈥檚 his goal to equate immigrants to violent animals, and attack perceptions of them as human. And in the Trump administration鈥檚 legal battle to deny migrant girls abortion access, officials have built their case around the idea that non-citizens lack the same fundamental human rights as citizens 鈥 essentially codifying the president鈥檚 dehumanizing rhetoric into dangerous policy.

This agenda affects the perceptions and rights of all immigrants and undocumented people, but it鈥檚 critical to note that women and girls are disproportionately impacted.

Long before this administration launched its crackdown on migrant women鈥檚 human rights, immigrant women and women of color have always faced disproportionate challenges to their reproductive rights. There鈥檚 a long history of language, economic or other barriers barring immigrant women and girls鈥 access to contraception and sexual health education. Lack of legal abortion in the US made self-termination attempts and the high risk of injury that went hand-in-hand with these attempts rampant, and low-income immigrant women were disproportionately affected.

Today, even severe restrictions on abortion continually fail to lower the abortion rate; rather, they solely increase the risk of unsafe abortion and injury, helping propel the US to have the highest maternal mortality rate in the industrialized world. That said, policing migrant women and girls鈥 access to abortion is about so much more than the typical policy debates concerning immigration and women鈥檚 rights. It鈥檚 about the frightening safety and living standards that immigrant women are being subjected to as a result of US immigration policy decisions.