Domestic abuse is a huge issue in this country. It’s estimated that around twenty people per minute experience domestic violence in the US, which is the equivalent of over ten million people every year. In addition to physical harm and psychological trauma, these individuals can also suffer from a variety of health issues as a result of intimate partner violence.

Escaping domestic violence is often incredibly difficult no matter what someone’s situation is, however, being undocumented can make things even more difficult. Due to “heightened risks as a result of factors like language, social isolation, lack of information or financial resources, cultural beliefs, or fear of deportation,” immigrant victims are far less likely to report this violence and find a way out. Abusive individuals may also take advantage of their partner’s immigrant status to make it more difficult for their partner to leave. For example, an abuser may threaten deportation or separation from their child, prevent their partner from learning English, destroy legal documents, among many other abusive tactics.

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Source: KPBS/YouTube

The 1994 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) includes some avenues for immigrant victims to obtain citizenship “without the knowledge or involvement of the abuser” through “self-petitioning.” While it’s great this exists, there are many barriers that could prevent people from being able to complete the process. In addition to the legal process that is complicated enough on its own, the victims may also have language, financial, and time barriers that make it even more difficult to self-petition. This is all provided that the victim even knows about this option.

Fortunately, nonprofits, such as the Immigration Center for Women and Children (ICWC), work within communities to “assist these victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, sexual assault, and other violent crimes in escaping abusive relationships, live in safety, and become self-sufficient.” Their incredible work no doubt saves countless lives and these kinds of non-profits deserve funding.

VAWA is currently being reintroduced and now is the perfect time to amend the law to increase funding to community-based services for immigrant victims of domestic abuse. Sign this petition and ask that the United States Senate pass the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization Act of 2021 and include increased funding for programs serving victims of domestic abuse in immigrant communities!

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To continue speaking up, sign these other petitions as well:

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