Immigrant Women Program: Public Policy - Issues
Legal Momentum’s Immigrant Women Program (IWP) is a national leader in understanding and addressing the unique challenges confronting immigrant women. IWP’s work focuses on the following concerns.
Rights of Immigrant Victims of Violence
- Immigration Relief for Victims: Immigrant crime victims are often afraid to leave abusive relationships or report crimes because of their immigration status. Whether they are undocumented or in the country legally, but dependent upon a spouse’s visa, deportation is a constant threat. IWP advocates on behalf of these victims, a particularly vulnerable subset of immigrant women. Though legislative advocacy on the Violence Against Women Act and other laws, and administrative advocacy to implement these important protections, IWP ensures that immigrant victims access immigration relief and protection from deportation. In particular, IWP has led efforts to advocate for legislation like the U-visa, as well as ensure effective implementation through administrative advocacy, training and technical assistance.
- Human Trafficking: Throughout the country, victims of trafficking are trapped in factories, homes, and brothels, often with little command of English and no awareness of how they can get help. In combating human trafficking, a form of modern-day slavery, IWP advocates for immigration and other services for trafficked people in the United States. IWP has fought to create and expand T-visa protections and other services to ensure that trafficking victims have secure immigration status and avoid re-exploitation. Through successful leadership in support of the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and subsequent reauthorizations, IWP continues to be at the forefront of this important human rights issue.
- Confidentiality and Victim Protection: The Violence Against Women Act contains a number of confidentiality protections for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Very frequently, perpetrators will threaten deportation as a means of controlling immigrant victims. Drawing from its expertise in immigration law, family law, and immigrants’ access to services, IWP leads efforts that have resulted in legislation and implementation of protections to address this fundamental problem. The protections include non-disclosure of immigration-based filings, prevention of immigration enforcement based solely on the information of a perpetrator, and prohibition of immigration enforcement actions at particular locations where a crime victim might be seeking services and protections.
- Language Access: In the context of immigration enforcement and some family law proceedings, lack of reasonable language access can result in permanent family separation and loss of legal rights and access to services. Legal Momentum advocates for meaningful language access rights for immigrant women, including access to interpreters in court proceedings, while seeking services, in accessing law enforcement protection, and in interactions with federal agencies relating to immigration processes.
- Public Benefits for Immigrant Women: Generally, with some important exceptions, only immigrants who have been legally residing in the country for five years can access public benefits like TANF and Medicaid. However, immigrant women suffering domestic violence may be able to qualify for benefits earlier depending on their state’s rules for such waivers. Legal Momentum works to increase access to life-saving benefits for immigrant women.
IWP also addresses a range of issues related to gender bias and immigration reform. More >>.