These Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) address common questions about responding to immigration enforcement activities at victim services programs. It is not intended to address situations where immigration officers or other law enforcement officers are engaging with an immigrant victim to provide assistance or to support victims in seeking an immigration benefit, such as assistance in placing a victim in a housing program, or working with a victim to provide a certification for a crime victim U Visa. This document proposes ideal practices for programs, however, it is not legal advice. Immigration and criminal laws vary from region to region, and federal immigration enforcement policies are constantly changing. Programs should analyze their program-specific risks, their community’s particular needs, and the laws in their jurisdiction—including legal duties associated with an agency’s funding sources—as they design or update program policies. Consulting a local immigration attorney with criminal law experience is highly advisable.
In May 2019, a coalition of national organizations gathered feedback from nearly six hundred advocates and attorneys from across the United States, learning that many immigrant victims of domestic and sexual violence are now too afraid to call the police or go to court to get help. The advocates report that survivors have an increased fear of deportation, retaliation by their abusers, and separation from their children.
Advisory Revised Oct 2018: How Will ‘Public Charge’ Proposed Policy Changes Impact Immigrant Survivors of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault?
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is planning to propose regulations that discard longstanding policy about the meaning and application of the “public charge” provisions of immigration law. Proposed policies will have a significant detrimental impact on survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault by deterring immigrant families, including those with U.S.-citizen children, from seeking help when they need it. Safety net benefits can help victims recover and escape from abuse and play a significant role in preventing future harm.
We need policies that ensure that all workers, whether they are employees or contractors, have access to safety and justice in the workplace.
We must strengthen our resolve to make sure that our community response to domestic violence is truly relevant to all survivors.
This factsheet provides basic information on U.S. immigration law and various immigration remedies available to victims of domestic violence and/or certain other crimes.