“Awareness of domestic violence started to come into the forefront in the 1980s. It is the intersection of domestic violence with immigration law that highlighted
the potential for immigration law to be used as a weapon by abusers to keep their
victims under control from seeking the help of the courts and accessing benefits.
“The Violence Against Women Act (VOWA) was introduced in 1990. This, among
other benefits, allowed immigrant victims of abuse to be no longer dependent on
their abusers in order to obtain immigrant status. It also touches on housing rights,
access to public benefits, and family law. It is a big deal that this was passed. Initially,
it had been met with resistance because it remedied a civil rights issue.”
Heard Around the Common
Attorney Hisham Leil of Community Legal Aid discussed
the Violence Against Women Act and how it has shaped both
domestic violence and immigration issues during a lecture
for the Center for Gender & Sexuality Studies entitled
“Discussion of Domestic Violence Issues for Non-citizens
and Immigrants” on April 2, 2014.
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