Understanding Your Rights

The Tahirih Justice Center, a national non-profit that serves individuals fleeing violence, recently released a statement on the possible impacts recent Executive Orders will have on survivors of domestic and sexual violence.  The most extreme include:
  • Mandatory detention of people apprehended for any violation of the law, including immigration law, would include victims of domestic violence who are seeking asylum.  Of special concern are undocumented victims of domestic violence who have been involved in a dual arrest, coerced by an abuser into committing an offense, or is a victim of trafficking and charged with prostitution.  
  • Expedited determination of complex lawsuits that could potentially minimize a victim’s ability to make their case for asylum.
  • Swift deportation and denying rights to appeal or apply for other forms of legal status.  This strengthens an abuser’s ability to use existing policies as an extension of power and control over an intimate partner by threatening to report the undocumented partner and have them deported. 
  • The requirement for local law enforcement to engage in immigration enforcement that will reduce their ability to obtain information about criminals from members of the community and put “sanctuary” jurisdictions at risk, which will reduce a victim’s trust in calling 911 for help.  
  • Prioritization of deportation of a broad range of individuals will encompass many survivors of domestic and sexual violence who would otherwise be eligible for protection under the Violence Against Women Act or Trafficking Victims Protection Act.  

Helping Survivors at Risk of Removal

  • Collect important documents
  • Medical, financial, identity docs, immigration papers, docs showing how long you have been in U.S.
  • Children: passports, IDs, school records
  • Create Emergency Contact Sheets with information of family members in U.S. and home country
  • Carry the name of an attorney or advocate and phone number/letter from attorney
    • Survivors should know their and their children’s “alien registration number” or A# (also called a USCIS #) 
  • Get the advice of an attorney before traveling outside of  the U.S.
  • Share “Know Your Rights Materials” and be aware of the risks associated if you come in contact with the criminal legal system
  • Create a Child Care Plan – who will care for children if parent is detained
    • Make sure caregivers have copies of your child’s records