The Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (WSCADV) is proud to stand with more than 1,850 leaders and organizations nationwide as a signatory to the “We Are With Dreamers” statement released today. This statement expresses our support for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that protects nearly 800,000 young people raised in this country, referred to as “Dreamers,” and allows them to contine to contribute to our communities without further marginalization through fear of deportation. The nearly 18,000 Dreamers in our state enrich and strengthen our cities, states, schools, businesses, congregations, and families. Today we join the other signers in telling Dreamers: we see you, we value you, and we are ready to defend you.
Overbroad immigration enforcement policies only further the marginalization of immigrant communities, and ultimately enable abusers by keeping survivors in constant fear of arrest and deportation, even for seeking help. In March of this year, WSCADV joined 563 organizations advocating against gender-based violence nationally in sending the U.S. Department of Homeland Security a joint letter expressing concern with the impact of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) enforcement actions on immigrant survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking. Last month, acting ICE Director, Thomas D. Homan, responded stating that, “[a]ny alien encountered by ICE who is in violation of our Nation’s immigration laws may be taken into custody, including those who were not previously identified as targets for enforcement action.”
On July 10, national organizations advocating on behalf of immigrant survivors issued a joint statement expressing serious concerns the ICE letter, stating that it was “insufficient and misguided” in light of the fear and uncertainty that immigrant communities face under the current enforcement environment. WSCADV joins our national partners in calling upon ICE to issue clear guidance that reaffirms existing policy commitments protecting victims and witnesses, and clarifies confusing and contradictory statements made recently on the issue.
These critical connections between immigration enforcement and community and survivor safety were reflected in the results of a recent nationwide survey of domestic violence programs and advocates. This survey included responses from a number of advocates in Washington State, including King, Thurston, Pierce, Spokane, Clark, Cowlitz, Jefferson, Okanogan, Lewis, Snohomish, Benton, Klickitat, Walla Walla, Whatcom and Yakima counties.
It was found that in Washington State:
- 65% of advocates responding report an increase in the requests for immigration related help
- 73% of advocates responding said that victims have expressed increased concerns about contacting police for help due to immigration concerns
- 81% of advocates report victims have expressed concerns about going to court for a matter related to domestic violence due to immigration concerns
- 45% of advocates report victims who’ve conveyed that they want to drop either a civil matter or criminal case because they fear continuing contact with the court because of immigration concerns
Know Your Rights Information for Advocates and Survivors:
- Many survivors do not know what to expect when traveling through a port of entry (airport, or otherwise). Prepare survivors for travel and what they should expect.
- What to do if ICE agents come to the door, from ACLU. Programs can follow the same principles if officers come to your shelter program.
- Know your rights information in multiple languages from the Immigrant Defense Project.
- Q&A for Advocates and Attorneys serving survivors of gender based violence, from the National Latin@ Project.
- More information and resources are available from Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, ACLU of Washington, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and Immigrant Legal Resource Center
- Crossing Borders – Immigration Project
- Immigration Relief for Noncitizen Survivors of Violence
- Assistance for Immigrants