Earlier this month, NBC New York interviewed a former My Sisters’ Place client and Jennifer Friedman, the Managing Director of our Center for Legal Services, to discuss the additional fears victims of domestic violence in the immigrant community face. MSP has seen firsthand that fear of deportation is often a barrier to seeking help and can be used as a tool by an abuser to maintain control.

As Jennifer says in the interview, “All of our clients are in abusive situations. So they already have that fear, and then to layer on top of that, the fear that they could be facing detention, that’s paralyzing.” We know that victims of domestic violence and human trafficking worry that reporting the crime they are experiencing to authorities may result in their own detention. They often feel they have to choose between risking being separated from their children and staying in an abusive relationship.

As rising publicity of deportation continues, we have received calls from victims who are immigrant parents concerned about what will happen to their children if they are detained or deported. Likewise, adult children of elderly parents have similar concerns for their care. This is a real fear for our clients, even those with pending immigration applications or temporary immigration status. Many have relatives in the U.S. willing to care for their children or elders if they are detained or deported, but they do not know the legal steps to take to execute a plan for their children’s future care.

In response to these growing fears, MSP has been holding “Know Your Rights” sessions for clients. This summer we are also embarking on an ambitious pro bono program to train and mentor attorneys from the private bar to complete powers of attorney and other directives that will assist clients with temporary guardianship for their children and financial planning in case they are detained and/or deported.

Our team highly recommends that all victims worried about their immigration status should reach out to our legal team to determine the best and safest course of action. Our services are offered free to victims of domestic violence and human trafficking regardless of immigration status, country of origin, sexual orientation, age, or gender identity.

For more information, contact: Anne O’Grady at ao’email hidden; JavaScript is required