Immigration reform activists believe that a reform bill that would bestow legal status upon undocumented immigrants would prevent domestic violence. Innumerable victims of domestic violence and other crimes do not report crimes and do not seek help from law enforcement authorities due to their unlawful immigration status. But they would feel more confident and seek help if they are legalized. Reform would also bring the victims out of the shadows.
According to Lynn Rosenthal, White House Advisor on Violence Against Women, both undocumented and documented immigrants are not reporting crimes as they believe that they or their family members would be deported if they seek police assistance.
Many immigrant women are also being threatened in the workplace. Such women who experience poor working conditions, wage theft and sexual abuse fail to report crimes as they are undocumented and are unauthorized to work in the U.S.
Immigration rights activists are urging the lawmakers to pass immigration reform in order to stop injustices against immigrant victims. They say that women across the country irrespective of their immigration status, deserve protection.
The Senate immigration reform bill would address these issues and would prevent abusers from using the immigration status of their victims as a tool of control. At present, undocumented women victims are unable to seek help as in many cases their abusers threaten to call the U.S. Immigration and Customs and report them.
This bill would allow undocumented immigrants to apply for Registered Provisional Immigrant status. Victims of crimes in this status would be allowed to maintain their own legal status, even if their legal relationship with their abusers, who are legal residents or U.S. citizens, has ended.
The Senate bill would permit the victims of crimes whose applications for U visas or T visas or applications for Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) are pending, to get work permits. This would help the victims to work and achieve economic independence.