Abused and Deported: Immigrant Women Face Double Disgrace

Abused and Deported: Immigrant Women Face Double Disgrace

Story tools

Comments

A A AResize

Print

Share and Email

 
María Bolaños has been fighting her deportation for more than a year, since a fight with her husband when she called the police to report that she was a victim of domestic violence. The police arrived at her home and, suspecting her of illegally selling phone cards, ordered her arrest.

Her case is the most well known, but activists say all programs that mix police work with immigration enforcement represent a growing threat to immigrant women who are victims of domestic violence.

“The Department of National Security hasn’t been very effective in identifying victims of domestic violence, even those who have already gotten benefits, such as suspension of deportation under the law VAWA (Violence Against Women Act),” Leslye Orloff, director of the immigrant women’s program at Legal Momentum, said recently before Congress.

With the expansion of the Secure Communities program, which is now operating in every county in California, along with 1,000 counties across the country, that danger is even greater, Orloff said.

Undocumented immigrants who have been victims of domestic violence can apply for residency without a sponsor, through the U Visa and T Visa programs. These are laws that benefit survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking, among other violent crimes.

But when a domestic violence victim calls the police to report a violent incident, police often arrest both the victim and the perpetrator, especially if the couple doesn’t speak English and there is confusion about what happened.

Activists in defense of immigrant women say this shows how dangerous these programs are for public safety, especially in immigrant communities.

"Our poor neighborhoods are full of immigrants; they don’t have the level of police protection. There is simply nothing more critical than the trust between the immigrant and the authorities," said Enid Gonzalez, a member of the legal team at Casa de Maryland, the first organization to help Bolaños. Gonzalez said cases like this make communities think that they shouldn’t call the police for help.

The Secure Communities program matches the fingerprints of all arrestees against a federal immigration database to determine whether they have outstanding deportation orders or are in the country illegally. If someone is arrested and booked, even if the charges are later dropped, his or her fingerprints will end up in these databases and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will be notified. ICE maintains that it is focused on arresting dangerous criminals and prioritizing the most serious crimes over minor offenses. However, it doesn’t always happen this way. A recent analysis of ICE's own data showed that at least 28 percent of those processed under the program were not guilty of any crime; they were simply undocumented immigrants.

ICE recently released 15,000 documents and internal memos about its management of the program following a legal battle led by the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, according to the organization’s director, Pablo Alvarado.

“They haven’t told the truth with respect to this program,” he said.

The case of women who have been victims of domestic violence is unique, not only because they have the right to immigration benefits – although many times they don’t know this – but also because the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has tried to implement measures to identify these women, although the program is so wide-reaching that this has been difficult.

At the urging of activists, DHS created a list with thousands of names of women who have received domestic violence benefits or are applying for them and have been approved.

"ICE isn’t supposed to touch these women, but with programs like 287(g) or Secure Communities, this list doesn’t seem to have much effect," said Orloff.

"What we ask is that ICE is committed to ensuring that the person arrested is not the victim. Otherwise, this kind of program becomes very dangerous."

In any case, the effect is to create more fear among women of the police than of the abusers themselves, said Judy London, an attorney with Public Counsel in Los Angeles.

"Ultimately, what concerns us most is not that there are many cases of this, but that it creates fear in the community ... this has definitely damaged the trust between police and the community," said London.

In fact, as a result of cases like that of María Bolaños, some organizations that help battered women are recommending that they don’t call the police, and instead try to call someone else first.
 

Comments

 
Anonymous

Posted Mar 17 2011

"Ultimately, what concerns us most is not that there are many cases of this, but that it creates fear in the community ... this has definitely damaged the trust between police and the community,"

Not enforcing the law against illegal activity undermines the trust between police and the legitimate community. If the police won't stop them from violating my rights and driving down my wages, why should I call the police? Why not just protect myself via 2nd ammendment?

Anonymous

Posted Mar 18 2011

When Joe Bided named the Violence Against Women's Act, he was deadly serious.
It cost the American taxpayer in excess of 6 billion dollars to finance Joe's Violence program, the return in investment goes to the federal government.

They are allowing corporations to rape and torture women in the workplace, as a revenue source to the government. Millions of dollars in corporate cash flow thru the federal courts, the US Attorneys offices, for allowing the rape of working women, in violation of federal civil rights statute law.


The DOJ will allow the same man to rape and murder women at the same business location, and refuse to arrest and incarcerated a man that raped more than a dozen women.

The DOJ will allow the same man to rape and murder more than a dozen women, and they tell me that raping women in the workplace is not a federal crime.


American taxpayers are financing the rape of her own women.......under the "Biden Plan"

I have been pleading a rape/murder case for five years. I would like help to convince JOE and OBAMA, and HOLDER that raping women in public, is a crime.....and SOMEONE should have put a rapist behind bars, before he rapes and murders again.

The problem is, the rapists are federalized revenue generating, felony rape program.

They are selling you women to rape.....to support the DOJ, and the Obama's federal government.

I would like help to simply put one man in prison for serious violent felony rape, I pleaded with Joe Biden to put him in prison, before he raped more women, but, Joe and Barack are making money from allowing these rapes......

I have proof that Obama and Joe are allowing that man to rape women for money, protecting that rapist, and they are in violation of federal law......and I would like help to make the government enforce the laws that we have, and stop selling our own women to rape.

It is better not to go to police, the courts will only make money from the rape of your body, and leave the rapist out there to rape more women.........the states profit from the "Biden Plan" as well.

Please help me get one rapist in prison........Joe Biden's friend, the serial rapist.....beverlyprather1@verizon.net

I can be reached at beverlyprather1@verizon.net

Anonymous

Posted Mar 18 2011

Yes we don't trust the police because they let illegal aliens get away with many things citizens would go to jail for. I was involved in a car accident with some illegals. They demolished my car and then sped away. The police "couldn't find them" even though I had more than 15 witnesses who wrote down the license number.

Anonymous

Posted Mar 18 2011

typical bigoted creeps here, they always show up to whine about anti-oppression articles -- hey at least there are only 2 so far.

some people actually think the cops *let immigrants get away with more than non-immigrants*? really? that's some hardcore willful ignorance right there -- right-wingers will believe whatever they want to believe, regardless of facts.

and the "shoot the immigrants" anon... are you Kansas State Rep Peck, by any chance? because your violent bigoted bullshit attitude would seem to indicate that you might be him, or at least a clone.

mean

Posted Mar 21 2011

Great post, I believe people should larn a lot from this blog its very user genial .

Anonymous

Posted Mar 21 2011

I recall from a story in the Washington Post that Ms. Bolanos herself had been involved in an assault against another woman. It's sexist to assume that her husband is the one doing the assaulting and that she's not equally involved.

Anonymous

Posted Mar 21 2011

I recall from a story in the Washington Post that Ms. Bolanos herself had been involved in an assault against another woman. It's sexist to assume that her husband is the one doing the assaulting and that she's not equally involved.

Anonymous

Posted Mar 21 2011

I recall from a story in the Washington Post that Ms. Bolanos herself had been involved in an assault against another woman. It's sexist to assume that her husband is the one doing the assaulting and that she's not equally involved.

Anonymous

Posted Mar 24 2011

Yet no one cares that this woman was illegaly selling phone cards? Deport this criminal

Anonymous

Posted Jun 15 2011

Why do you think if a bank robber is shot during a robbery they do not go to the hospital?? Because they were doing someyhing against the law!! It's unfortunate but when you're doing something illegal, you have a choice, report something someone else did to you that was against the law and turn yourself in, or save yourself and the other law breaker from punishment! The immigrant should do the right thing, report the rape, that that creep off the street and go home!

Disclaimer: Comments do not necessarily reflect the views of New America Media. NAM reserves the right to edit or delete comments. Once published, comments are visible to search engines and will remain in their archives. If you do not want your identity connected to comments on this site, please refrain from commenting or use a handle or alias instead of your real name.