In light of heightened fear within immigrant communities, the following FAQs are intended to address confidentiality and due process protections afforded to victim advocacy organizations and victims themselves. A recent report, 2017 Advocate and Legal Service Survey Regarding Immigrant Survivors, in collaboration with several national organizations, revealed an increase in immigration-related questions from survivors to their victim advocates and attorneys and uncertainty about pursuing assistance from the legal system. Federal law and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) policies provide programs with several avenues for protecting the confidentiality of survivors. Advocates can reference these confidentiality protections when describing the confidentiality protections that their programs will adhere to if confronted with immigration enforcement.

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.

Related Resources

Advisory Revised Aug 2019: How Will ‘Public Charge’ Proposed Policy Changes Impact Immigrant Survivors of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault?

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a final rule, published in the Federal Register on August 14, 2019, which significantly changes longstanding policy about the meaning and application of the “public charge” inadmissibility provisions of immigration law. According to DHS, this is to ensure that non-citizens “who are admitted to the United States, seek extension of stay or change of status, or apply for adjustment of status will be self-sufficient, i.e., will rely on their financial resources, as well as the financial resources of the family, sponsors, and private organizations.”

Advisory: How Do Recent HUD Proposed Rules About Verification of Immigration Status Impact Survivors of Domestic & Sexual Assault?

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) proposed regulations that change longstanding policy relating to immigration status verification requirements and disallowing those ineligible for federal housing assistance (i.e., members of “mixed-status” households) from residing in HUD’s public and specified assisted housing programs. This advisory describes impacts of the proposed rule on immigrant survivors of violence

May 2019 Advocate & Legal Services Findings: Immigrant Survivors Fear Reporting Violence

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.

By Grace Huang

API-GBV
July 2017

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