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Undocumented immigrants suffering more domestic abuse

New research shows that President Trump’s immigration crackdown could have negative effects for victims of household abuse. Experts in New York and other states say that immigrants who are victims of domestic abuse are even less likely to report their attackers in this anti-immigrant climate. They face a difficult choice, according to advocates – “out” themselves as undocumented residents to authorities, or continue to suffer in silence.

Now, those victims are suffering from further isolation and other serious consequences that are preventing them from reporting their abusers. Advocates call this a “chilling effect,” since police officers and law enforcement officials are being encouraged to report undocumented workers for the federal government. In one shocking case, a domestic violence victim was arrested as she exited a Texas courthouse. She had been seeking a protective order from her boyfriend, who had allegedly brandished a knife at her, strangled, kicked, and punched her.

Abusers may be more likely to use their victims’ undocumented status as a sort of weapon to enforce silence. Now, police officers are more likely to be seen as the enemy, so these victims have little recourse against unsafe situations. Domestic assault charges against an abuser mean little if the victim is facing deportation back to an undesirable location.

No matter who you are, you deserve safety in your everyday life. This includes safety from family violence. Victims who are undocumented may not feel comfortable going to the police, but they do have legal recourse through the judicial system and their personal attorneys. Lawyers are continuing to update themselves on the evolving immigration situation in the U.S., and they can provide advice for those who are truly suffering.

Source: Huffington Post, “Trump’s Immigration Crackdown Could Endanger Domestic Violence Victims,” Melissa Jeltsen, Feb. 27, 2017

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