Impacting the Lives of Domestic Violence Survivors
Justice for Immigrant Survivors of Domestic Violence
Many of our DV Immigration clients are routinely threatened with deportation and their abusers often exploit the court system to maintain power and control over them. This can have devastating and severe consequences for non-citizen survivors. In one such case, we represented Ann whose ex-boyfriend was extremely physically and psychologically abusive, and his threats to have her deported kept her isolated and under his control for a long time. While she was pregnant with their child, John attacked Ann and she scratched him in self-defense. They were both arrested and issued a protection order against the other. John was later arrested again for violating Ann’s order of protection against him. John retaliated by falsely reporting to the police that Ann violated his order of protection causing her to be arrested two more times. John made his threats a reality by exploiting Ann’s undocumented status and lack of familiarity with criminal justice system. As an additional negative consequence of her arrest, Ann was placed in removal proceedings.
Our Project worked collaboratively with the Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Defense Practice to achieve a full dismissal of the three criminal cases pending against Ann. We also obtained a U certification from the District Attorney’s Office affirming that she was a domestic violence survivor and was helpful in the prosecution against John for the crimes he committed against her. Once her U was granted by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), we were able to get her removal proceedings terminated. Her six other children were also able to benefit as derivatives on her U application and she was able to reunite with them here in the United States.
Obtaining legal status without fear of deportation and the ability to work lawfully is transformative for our clients and their children. It removes significant barriers to escaping an abusive relationship and creates a pathway to safety and stability.
Keeping Domestic Violence Survivors Out of Poverty
During the year 2018, our staff obtained over $3.5 million dollars in awards of child support, spousal support and distribution of marital property for our clients. These dollars represent countless numbers of clients who were kept off public assistance, retained their homes, and were better off for their future and the future of their children due to our advocacy.
By the Numbers
We work on behalf of individuals of all ages who have faced trafficking, helping them gain access to the tools and resources they need to thrive.
Domestic violence complaints filed in NYC for 2018.
Violations of an order of protection reported in NYC for 2018.
Divorces filed in NYC for 2018.
Changing the Way Cases are Handled in Court
The Family/DV unit is involved with committees and task forces that assist the Courts in changing the way cases are handled. Our attorneys reach all aspects of the court system, through these committees, making sure our clients are heard and respected in all aspects of their cases. From changing law on maintenance to working with the court system to make sure pilot projects work for domestic violence survivors, our attorneys are there to raise up the voice of our clients in the system.
A contribution to The Legal Aid Society is about more than money.
Every donation helps us offer essential legal services to thousands of vulnerable New Yorkers, helping people buy food, pay rent, and care for themselves and their families.