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Fear Has Silenced Undocumented Domestic Violence Victims

In February, an immigration enforcement case in El Paso earned the attention of domestic violence advocates across the country. As the El Paso Times reported, an undocumented woman was detained by immigration officers right after she went to the courthouse to get a restraining order against a violent and abusive partner. Domestic violence advocates were horrified, worried that it would potentially deter undocumented people from reporting abuse to law enforcement. “It sends a really strong message to victims and survivors that there is no safe place,” Ruth Glenn, executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, told Bustle in February.

Now, a month later, the effect on fighting domestic violence is being felt.Some time after the El Paso incident, Enrique Elizondo, a worker for a domestic violence hotline, received a call from an undocumented woman (I have not included any identifying details to protect her confidentiality), facing an abusive husband. According to Elizondo, she was at the point of fear that the abuse could become lethal. But, after selling all her belongings to come to the United States, she found herself feeling like she was out of options. Her partner had specifically made threats about contacting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and having her deported if she took action, according to Elizondo, and the El Paso case made her fear he could. Elizondo tells Bustle he tried to help her contact legal help, but the woman asked him, “Is this legal advocate going to deport me?” Ultimately, Elizonda says he was able to get her legal help.

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