Immigration reform is a critical issue that directly impacts survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Since the first enactment of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in 1994, Congress has recognized the heightened vulnerability to abuse that immigrant survivors face when their immigration status can be used against them as a tool of abuse. Unfortunately, despite current humanitarian provisions of U.S. immigration law and current VAWA protections intended to reduce these vulnerabilities, many obstacles to immigrant survivors’ access to safety and justice still remain. Immigration reform is necessary not only to protect those who have experienced abuse, but also to help prevent and reduce the significant vulnerability to abuse and exploitation that currently exists in the United States. In particular, the significant increase in the entanglement of local law enforcement with immigration enforcement has driven immigrant victims further into the shadows.
Estimates indicate that a significant number of the immigration population consists of women (51%) and that there are approximately four million undocumented immigrant women. Abusive partners, opportunistic predators, and manipulative employers often exploit a victim’s lack of immigration status, or dependent immigration status, as a way to maintain power and control and to keep victims silent.
The push for immigration reform is also a push for human rights to prevent the vulnerabilities to abuse and exploitation of all those living in the shadows. Please navigate the tabs on the left, which provide a list of resources on immigration reform as it relates to survivors of violence.