October 27, 2014 — "[U]ndocumented women live with violence and fear" in the U.S. daily, but "President Obama has the power to change this by strengthening protections for immigrant women," Adriana Cazorla, an immigrant and domestic violence survivor, writes in a Daily Beast opinion piece.
Cazorla explains that after she emigrated "without papers" from Mexico to Washington state, her "husband abused [her] physically, sexually, and psychologically" for over a decade and threatened to report her to immigration officials if she told anyone about the abuse.
When Cazorla eventually attempted to "get a restraining order against [her] husband," her husband's brother informed a judge that she was undocumented, resulting in her being "detained for four months, separated from [her] children and fearful for their safety." She writes that while she was able to apply for residency under the Violence Against Women Act (PL 113-4) and eventually reunited with her children, they "will always [be] scarred by those twelve years of abuse and fear of deportation."
Call for Presidential Action
Cazorla urges Obama to "take action immediately," beginning "with ending collaborations between police and immigration officers like the so-called 'Secure Communities' program that makes immigrant women afraid to report abuse to the police or seek help and services." Such changes, she explains, would "provide women like [her] relief from detention and deportation and ensure that not one more mother is unfairly separated from her children."
Noting that October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Cazorla concludes that "we must all raise our voices to protect immigrant women who are subjected to domestic violence without recourse, and amplify the urgent call to end all violence against women and children" (Cazorla, Daily Beast, 10/23).