Hernandez v. Ashcroft

If you are being watched, leave now!

Determined the definition of extreme cruelty under the VAWA provision that protects immigrant victims from deportation and return to their abuser.

Full Case Title: 

Hernandez v. Ashcroft, 345 F.3d 824 (9th Cir. 2003)
  • Violence Against Women and Girls


  • Immigration
  • Authored Amicus Brief


Our Role in the Case

The amicus curiae brief filed by Legal Momentum and its allies made a critical contribution to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling in Hernandez v. Ashcroft, an enormous victory for battered immigrant women. The law firm of Crowell and Moring represented the amici in the case.

Summary of the Case

This case considered whether Laura Luis Hernandez, a Mexican woman who, while in the United States, was persuaded by her terribly abusive husband to return to him in Mexico, and who again fled from his abuse to the U.S., had been subjected to "extreme cruelty" and therefore qualified for cancellation of deportation under the immigrant relief provisions of the Violence Against Women Act. The central issue in the case was whether calls the petitioner received while she was in the United States from her husband, begging her to return to him in Mexico, constituted extreme cruelty even though the violence itself occurred outside the U.S.


The court reached an affirmative decision, and quoted extensively from the psychological research data provided by our amicus brief, and directly quoted the director and a former staff attorney in our Immigrant Women Program. This opinion represents the first clear articulation of the definition of extreme cruelty under immigration law in domestic violence cases, and it will be invaluable in securing relief for countless other immigrant victims.