By Leslie Santibanez
Undocumented abuse victims live in a world where the fear of being deported causes them to remain with abusers.
This is the everyday reality of being an abused undocumented woman in the United States.
These women live a life filled with paranoia.
They are afraid of their abusers, authority figures, and in fear of deportation.
Being in a foreign country away from any support system is an isolating experience.
Isolating a woman from any friends or family is the first step abusers take.
According to The Intercept, “Abusive partners whose victims are undocumented often exploit their inability to legally work … or enforce obedience by threatening to betray them to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”
After isolating the victim, the abuser becomes the sole breadwinner to make the woman and her children economically dependant on him.
Threatening deportation is the final step in the abusers plan.
Deportation to these women, means being thousands of miles apart from their children.
Fearing separation from their children, they remain with their abusive spouse.
To them a fate away from their children is worse than remaining in a relationship where they run the risk of death.
It is impossible for them to escape the prison they are in.
The election of Donald Trump has only amplified this fear.
The rhetoric he has spewed against immigrants has left these victims in the shadows.
The best option in their eyes is to remain in the relationship instead of getting help.
ICE promises these women there is no reason to fear deportation as they are protected by the law.
A 2011 directive states, “it is against ICE policy to initiate removal proceedings against an individual known to be the immediate victim or witness to a crime.”
But that is not the case anymore.
The new memos released by ICE secretary John Kelly in February rendered the 2011 directive protecting these victims useless.
These new memos subject undocumented witnesses of violence to immediate deportation.
It is a reflection of our broken justice system when people are afraid of receiving help. That is how we know that something is truly wrong.
We put a person’s legal status over our morality.
These women are human beings just like you and I.
They deserve to get help without fearing the system that is supposed to help them escape their abuser.
It is a basic human right to live in a safe environment.
So why aren’t we allowing these women the right to a life without fear? Undocumented women shouldn’t have to put up with an abusive spouse along with a justice system that is rigged against them.
We should not live in a society where undocumented women see a life with their abuser to be a better choice than to ask for help.