New Report Says Immigrant Survivors of Domestic Violence Are Afraid to Ask for Help

By Shani Saxon Jun 06, 2019

A new study conducted by the Tahirih Justice Center and a national coalition of organizations finds that immigrants who are survivors of domestic abuse often don’t seek support from police or the courts due to fear of deportation.  

According to a statement released by the coalition, researchers surveyed “575 victim advocates and attorneys in 42 states, one U.S. territory and the District of Columbia.” The results show that in the months since the government began tightening immigration laws, immigrant survivors of domestic abuse “have an increased fear of deportation, retaliation by their abusers and separation from their children.” The current administration’s severe policies have made it difficult for survivors to speak up when they are in danger. 

“This survey shows us the robust chilling effect that recent immigration policy changes are having on immigrant survivors of violence,” Archi Pyati, chief of policy for the Tahirih Justice Center, said in the statement released by the coalition. “This is the message they are receiving: either stay with your abuser or risk deportation.”

More from the statement:


Current immigration policies, including increased entanglement of local and state law enforcement with federal immigration enforcement efforts, tightened eligibility for legal protections, a narrowed pathway to asylum and expanded deportation priorities have had a significant impact on the climate of fear affecting immigrant survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault and has undermined their access to safety and justice. 

This is especially dangerous because, as Rosie Hidalgo, senior director of public policy for Casa de Esperanza National Latina Network, points out in the coalition’s official statement, “If immigrants are too afraid to call the police or go to court because of fear of deportation, they become more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation,” she said. “This undermines victim safety as well as public safety and is contrary to our nation’s commitment to affording protections for all survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.”

View the full report here.