Adult Victims of Crime

Several groups of victims have special problems in accessing the justice system. One is … comprised of victims who are not fluent English speakers and, therefore, need interpreter services. The vast majority of victims who need such services are immigrants who, because of their immigration status, have additional problems and concerns.

2005 National Evaluation of the Legal Assistance for Victims Program

RAICES assists the immigrant victims of crime by representing their immigration legal rights and assisting with protection orders. Since many immigrant victims of crime do not report their abusers to the police due to fear of affecting their immigration status, we typically identity victims of domestic violence only after they seek help with immigration legal issues. 

Undocumented immigrants who are victims of crime may be eligible for certain protections under U.S. immigration laws. The most well known protections are T-visas for victims of severe forms of trafficking, U-visas for victims of crime, and self-petitioning under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Applicants can receive deferred action, work authorization, and eventual or immediate eligibility to apply for permanent residency, depending on the type of protection granted. Dependent family members can also benefit from these protections. Immigrant women are particularly vulnerable to violence and exploitation. According to a report by the Immigration Policy Center, immigrant women are more likely to experience exploitation while traveling to the U.S., at the workplace, and in their homes. Women in detention are even more vulnerable, since detention decreases access to services and legal services for themselves and their children.

In 2014, over a third of our clients were victims of domestic violence and other crimes. We know that victims are less likely to remain in abusive relationships and living situations if they know there is relief. Through our partnerships with federal and local law enforcement, RAICES is in a unique position to expand awareness of domestic, sexual violence, and human trafficking within the immigrant communities. Our team works with organizations, such as the Rape Crisis Center, Family Violence Prevention Services Inc., and several local shelters to conduct outreach efforts and form collaborative relationships so that families can find the help they need. We continue to deliver free and low-cost legal services that enable our clients to obtain immigration legal relief via T-Visas, U-visas, and VAWA provisions.