An undocumented 20-year-old woman from Mexico, who called 911 seeking emergency help for protection from her abusive boyfriend, had recently faced deportation.
The case stems from an incident in February of this year. The woman’s boyfriend kicked her out of their family residence, but kept their 18-month-old baby. In an attempt to see the baby and because she had nowhere else to go, she returned home.
When her boyfriend returned home unexpectedly, she called 911 out of fear, even knowing that this may trigger an investigation into her immigration status. In an unforeseen twist, the boyfriend told police that the woman was the aggressor in the domestic abuse and police decided to arrest the woman instead.
After a doctor’s examination of the woman’s body, which disclosed several bruises, the charges were dropped against the woman. However, her fingerprints were submitted to the Department of Homeland Security for an immigration check.
When the fingerprints showed that she was an undocumented immigrant, the deportation process began under the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Secure Communities program. The intent of the program is designed to remove undocumented immigrant criminals in order to protect the public.
The woman in this case argued at a recent press conference that the program does not only pursue criminals, but also unprotected victims such as herself seeking help from authorities. Opponents of the program are concerned about cases exactly like this one. They have argued that the program should not be applied to deter the public from seeking police help.
Opponents of the program also argue that it is an attempt to deport the community on a massive scale. In fact, according to immigration officials, the two-year-old program has led to the removal of 72,000 undocumented immigrants convicted of crimes. However, only a third of those individuals have committed violent offenses. In this case, the woman did not commit a crime, but the program was still used to initiate deportation proceedings against her.
Based primarily on the public outcry stemming from this case, the ICE has recently suspended the deportation of this woman. In addition, because this woman has been the victim of domestic violence, she may have grounds to have her immigrant status legalized. She has received approval to apply for a U Visa, which is allowed for immigrants who are victims of crimes, and the petition will be presented to immigration services.
Source: ABC News, “Los Angeles Woman Who Called 911 to Report Abuse Gets Reprieve from Deportation,” 13 May 2011