Mother’s Day was established in 1914 by President Woodrow Wilson for the purpose of remembering mothers and honoring peace. Peace begins at home and while this is true for most people, it is not true for everyone.
Consider that during the six-month period from October 2013 to March 2014, the National Domestic Violence Hotline saw a 12 percent increase in calls from pregnant survivors of abuse. Violence against women by an intimate partner or relative is a common occurrence in the United States. Furthermore, domestic violence against foreign-born women and their children is exacerbated by numerous factors such as legal status, isolation, language, and fear of reporting and possible deportation.
For the past seven years, CLINIC has had the privilege of working with various domestic violence organizations that encourage immigrants to come forward and report incidents of violence. CLINIC has worked with crisis centers, coalitions, networks, and shelters in an effort to prepare them so that they may provide immigration legal services. With the support of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women, and in partnership with ASISTA Immigration Assistance, CLINIC has been able to train and equip non-attorneys to become authorized immigration legal service providers. As a result, foreign-born survivors of domestic violence have improved access to immigration legal services at local shelters and victim services agencies. By providing humanitarian immigration legal services in-house we hope that these newly authorized practitioners reach more foreign-born survivors in need of immigration legal services.
This Mother’s Day, let us pray for the women and children who are living in emergency shelters and let us remember the lives of those who were lost due to violence. Mother’s Day gives us an opportunity to cherish the advocates who have made it their life mission to help women and children who are subject to violence.
For information and local resources to prevent domestic abuse, call the National DV Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or visit them at www.ndvh.org.
Catholic resources can be found at Catholics for Family Peace www.catholicsforfamilypeace.org.
For information on CLINIC’s Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Immigration Program and the legal options available to immigrant victims of domestic abuse, visit https://cliniclegal.org/programs/center-citizenship-and-immigrant-communities/vawa-immigration-project.
*Silvana Arista is Attorney and Project Coordinator for CLINIC’s Center for Citizenship and Immigrant Communities. Sharon O’Brien, Ph.D., is Co-Organizer of Catholics for Family Peace