*Breaking Barriers Table of Contents

Breaking Barriers is a comprehensive manual that provides information that will be useful to advocates, attorneys, justice, and social services professionals working with and assisting immigrant survivors of domestic and family violence. This Manual provides a detailed overview explanation of immigrant survivors’ legal rights under immigration, family, public benefits, and criminal laws and their rights to […]

[pdf] Breaking Barriers: A Complete Guide to Legal Rights and Resources for Battered Immigrants (+)

Breaking Barriers is a comprehensive tool that provides information that will be useful to advocates, attorneys, justice, and social services professionals working with and assisting immigrant survivors of domestic and family violence. This Manual provides a detailed overview explanation of immigrant survivors’ legal rights under immigration, family, public benefits, and criminal laws and their rights to access a broad range of victim services without regard to immigration status of the immigrant crime victim or their children. Breaking Barriers provides social science research findings, information about laws, policies and best practices, legislative history, tools and checklists that will help professionals working with immigrant survivors navigate intersecting legal and social services options that are legally available to assist all immigrant victims including those who are undocumented.

[pdf] CH 01.1 Dynamics of Domestic Violence Experienced by Immigrant Victims (+)

This chapter (1.1) discussed the dynamics of domestic violence as experienced by immigrant victims. It discusses immigrant victim’s experiences with domestic violence as well as fear deportation, economic abuse, child custody, misconceptions victim’s have about the U.S. legal system, immigrant victims interactions with the justice system and how advocates and attorneys can effectively support victims in exercising their legal rights and gaining access to victim services.

[pdf] Chapter 01.2: Collaboration, Confidentiality, and Expanding Advocacy (+)

This chapter (1.2) discusses best practice for collaborations between victim advocates and attorneys and justice system personnel, particularly law enforcement. These collaborations are best practices for effectively serving immigrant survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

[pdf] Chapter 02: Interviewing and Safety Planning for Immigrant Victims of Domestic Violence (+)

This chapter will discuss the best ways for advocates and attorneys to communicate with battered immigrant clients. It will detail effective methods of identifying, interviewing, assisting, and ensuring the safety of domestic violence victims. It will teach advocates and attorneys how to interact with clients in a manner that diminishes the pain involved with discussing the abuse and how to be sensitive to cultural differences.

[pdf] Chapter 03.1: Introduction to Immigration Relief for Immigrant Victims of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault and Glossary of Terms (+)

An overview of immigration options for immigrant victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, options related primarily to crime victimization, information on VAWA immigration relief, and a glossary of terms.

To understand immigration law, it is crucial for an attorney or advocate to understand the most commonly used terminology. The following brief descriptions of terms are relevant to assisting battered immigrants.

[pdf] Chapter 03.4: VAWA Cancellation of Removal (July 10, 2013) (+)

This chapter provides basic information on VAWA cancellation of removal, lists the eligibility requirements that must be met by an applicant, and provides some suggested examples of evidence that an attorney or advocate may offer to meet each requirement. This chapter is designed to help advocates and attorneys who are not immigration attorneys identify immigrant victims who may be eligible for cancellation of removal. The information provided will also be useful to immigration attorneys who may not have experience with domestic violence, sexual assault, or incest cases. This chapter will help them to work in collaboration with advocates and other attorneys assisting immigrant victims. The most successful cancellation of removal cases are those in which advocates and civil attorneys support the efforts of the immigration attorney.

[pdf] Chapter 03.5: Additional Remedies Under VAWA: Battered Spouse Waiver (+)

This chapter provides an overview of conditional residence and explains the process involved in attaining and removal of that status. The chapter details the different waivers to the joint petition, specifically the Battered Spouse Waiver, that were created by the Immigration Act of 1990. The chapter also provides guidance on how to spot potential Battered Spouse Waiver applicants and how to effectively prepare a Battered Spouse Waiver.

[pdf] Chapter 03.6: U-Visas: Victims of Criminal Activity (August 8, 2023) (+)

Full chapter excerpt from “Breaking Barriers: A Complete Guide to Legal Rights and Resources for Battered Immigrants” to assist advocates and attorneys in identifying sexual assault, domestic violence, and other crime victims who may be eligible for U-visa immigration status and to provide resources to help advocates and attorneys work together to prepare U-visa applications for immigrant crime victims.

[pdf] Chapter 03.7: Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Survivors and Gender-Based Asylum (+)

This chapter is designed to help advocates and attorneys not trained in immigration law identify when a survivor might be eligible for gender-based asylum and explain how to help a survivor develop the evidentiary record necessary to succeed in bringing a gender-based asylum claim. Survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault who fear returning to their home country may be able to obtain lawful status in the United States by applying for gender-based asylum. If an applicant is successful in her application for asylum, she will be authorized to live and work in this country; subsequently apply to become a lawful permanent resident; and eventually become a U.S. citizen.

[pdf] Chapter 04.1: Access to Programs and Services that Can Help Battered Immigrants (+)

This chapter highlights several important types of assistance that nonprofit organizations serving immigrant victims of domestic violence may provide and discusses the requirements that service providers must meet when working with battered immigrant populations. Specifically, the chapter describes shelter services, victim compensation, legal assistance, and other types of federal benefits that organizations may provide to battered immigrants. Next, it discusses federal laws prohibiting service providers from discriminating on the basis of national origin and requiring them to provide services without regard to immigration status when necessary to protect the life and safety of a victim.

[pdf] Chapter 04.2: Public Benefits Access for Battered Immigrant Women and Children (+)

This chapter includes:
– the types of immigration status relevant to a public benefits determination
– the legal definition of a battered “qualified” immigrant
– categories of benefits
– specific eligibility rules for some important federal programs
– the need to accompany battered immigrants applying for benefits
– public charge
– rules regarding inquiries into citizenship and immigration status
– social security numbers

Readers should be aware that many immigrant eligibility provisions and public benefit requirements discussed in this chapter are both complex, and deeply intertwined. Because of this overlapping complexity, some of the information in this chapter is duplicated in more than one section when required for clarity. Our goal is to assure that advocates and attorneys using this manual can easily access the most complete information they will need to assist clients.

[pdf] Chapter 04.3: Barriers to Accessing Services: The Importance of Advocates Accompanying Battered Immigrants Applying for Public Benefits (+)

This chapter discusses the different barriers which immigrants may encounter with regard to accessing services. It discusses the impact of Welfare Reform on immigrant families. This chapter also includes a policy guidance issued by the Department of Health and Human Services, regarding handling questions on citizenship, immigration status, and social security numbers during the benefits application process, as well as facilitating access to public benefits for persons with limited English proficiency (LEP). Other topics included in this chapter are Medicaid and SCHIP, food stamps, and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF).

[pdf] Chapter 05.1: Battered Immigrants and Civil Protection Orders (+)

Civil protection orders are available in all fifty states, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and all U.S territories and are designed to protect battered individuals from their abusers. The civil protection order aims to offer the victim protection from future abuse and can be crafted to uniquely address and counter abuse, power, and control in each particular relationship. When civil protection orders are appropriately drafted and consistently enforced, they can provide effective protection for victims of domestic violence. Most importantly, civil protection orders provide a victim-initiated and controlled justice response to domestic violence that does not require criminal justice system involvement. Civil protection orders are initiated by the victim, thus a victim can choose to pursue this justice-system remedy without reliance on the criminal courts. This chapter discusses civil protection orders in depth.

[pdf] Chapter 05.2: Ensuring Access to Protection Orders for Immigrant Victims of Family Violence (+)

This chapter addresses the importance of protection orders as a tool to prevent domestic violence and discusses the authority and obligation of family court judges to issue protection orders to all survivors of intimate partner violence. Most importantly, this chapter explains the distinct separation between the powers of family court judges to issue protection orders and other family court remedies to survivors of domestic violence and the federal authority to grant or revoke immigration status.

[pdf] Chapter 06.1: Countering Abuser’s Attempts to Raise Victim’s Immigration Status in Custody Cases (+)

This chapter is designed to help family lawyers prepare to counter attempts by abusers to raise immigration status in custody cases. Attorneys should be encouraged to use the information in this chapter to educate judges hearing custody cases about the fact that they should not consider immigration status in making custody decisions in the best interests of children. The contents of this chapter are written in a format that could be incorporated into a bench brief to a trial court in a custody matter or that would be included in materials for educating judges.

[pdf] Chapter 06.3: The Implications of the Hague International Child Abduction Convention: Cases and Practice (+)

This chapter will provide an overview of the Hague Convention and its applications, as well as some practical recommendations to attorneys and advocates working with victims of domestic violence who are considering leaving the country with their children or who are fearful that their abuser may leave the country with their children.

[pdf] Chapter 06.4: Ensuring Economic Relief for Immigrant Victims Through Family Law Proceedings: Child Support and Spousal Support (+)

This chapter provides an overview of the child support system and demonstrates some of the problems faced by immigrant victims in accessing this system. This chapter also provides practical information on how to prepare for a child and spousal support case; what form of support orders are best in domestic violence cases; and tips on child support enforcement. The focus of this chapter is on the child- and spousal support issues that arise in cases of immigrant victims.

[pdf] Chapter 07: Battered Immigrants and the Criminal Justice System (+)

This chapter is designed to help advocates and attorneys with two main issues: how to work with victims who have criminal convictions or criminal charges pending against them, and how to work with victims whose abusers have charges pending against them.
This chapter presents an overview of the immigration consequences of criminal conduct. It also presents guidelines for advocates on assisting battered immigrants within the justice system, both when they themselves have criminal histories or face charges, and when their abusers are facing criminal charges. Criminal laws are not uniform and vary in each jurisdiction, making each criminal case unique. This chapter is therefore not intended to be an exhaustive or comprehensive guide for assisting battered immigrant women involved in criminal cases. Instead, it provides advocates with basic information and tools to understand and address the immigrant victim’s situation.

[pdf] Chapter 3.3 Preparing the VAWA Self-Petition and Applying for Residence (August 16, 2023) (+)

Guide to preparing and filing Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Self-Petitions on behalf of battered immigrant spouse, children, step-children, former spouses, and parents of citizens and lawful permanent residents. Includes applications for lawful permanent residency for approved VAWA self-petitioners and their children.

[pdf] VAWA Confidentiality and Breaches (2013) (+)

Battered immigrant women relay extremely sensitive and private information to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS, formerly INS)3 when seeking immigration relief. A batterer in possession of any of this information might use it to locate the battered immigrant spouse and her children and harm them. If he becomes aware that she is seeking immigration status independently of him or planning on leaving him, he might try to seek revenge and might contact the immigration authorities in an attempt to undermine her case or have her deported. For these reasons, confidentiality rules can serve as a potentially lifesaving protection for the victim and her children. A manual of confidentiality and breaches of confidentiality.