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Election Results Cause Panic for Some Immigrant Women

Immigrants who are the victims of domestic violence can apply for permanent resident status. (U.S. State Dept.)
Immigrants who are the victims of domestic violence can apply for permanent resident status. (U.S. State Dept.)
November 14, 2016

NEW YORK – Legal advocates for immigrant women say the election of Donald Trump as the next U.S. president has caused a wave of panic among their clients.

Her Justice is a nonprofit organization that helps low-income women in New York City get free legal services in family, divorce and immigration cases. Some 85 percent of them also are victims of intimate-partner violence.

Amy Barasch, the group’s executive director, says the day after the election clients began calling, asking if someone would come to their home and deport them.

"They're some of the most vulnerable people who may have fled home countries because their countries weren't safe, then their homes didn't become safe because their partners were violent to them, and now they feel that they're not safe here either," she points out.

There are special visa programs that allow victims of domestic violence to apply for permanent resident status and work authorization.

Barasch stresses that people concerned about their immigration status should seek solid legal advice. And although the status quo has not yet changed, Her Justice has been telling clients that if deportation proceedings are started they may have some recourse.

"If they have work authorization, if they're in a pending status, any further action would take some process,” Barasch explains. “And obviously as their attorneys, we would work with them to defend them against that process."

Barasch adds that those currently protected by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), are most at risk because that program could be eliminated on the first day of the new administration.

On a more hopeful note, Barasch says the fear and uncertainty of what lies ahead have driven many people not at risk to take positive action.

"We're an organization that works primarily with volunteer attorneys,” she states. “And the phone has been ringing off the hook not only with scared clients but also with volunteers calling to say, 'What can we do to help people?'"

Other organizations offering assistance to immigrants include the New York Immigration Coalition and Catholic Charities.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY