Congress created important protections for immigrant survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and Trafficking Victims Prevention Act (TVPA) in the express recognition that abusers often exploit a victim’s lack of immigration status as a tactic of abuse. Current immigration enforcement policies, including executive orders that cast a much wider net for who is considered a priority for deportation and call for increased entanglement of local and state law enforcement in federal immigration enforcement efforts, have had a significant impact on immigrant survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Many advocates are hearing from immigrant survivors that they have increased fear and concerns about reaching out for help. In some places, advocates are reporting a decrease in immigrant survivors contacting their agencies for assistance. Attorneys and advocates who work with survivors have reported that they are uncertain how to advise immigrant survivors about what will happen if they call the police or go to court. To better understand these concerns, a coalition of national organizations sent out a survey to the field on April 12 – 25, 2017 asking for their feedback. In total, 715 advocates and attorneys from 46 states and the District of Columbia completed the survey. This infographic shows the findings from this survey.

Related Resources

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.

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.

Developed in collaboration with ASISTA, Casa de Esperanza, National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, the National Domestic Violence Hotline, National Network to End Domestic Violence and Tahirih Justice Center January 2017

This survey was conducted again in May 2019. Click here for the 2019 findings

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