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Women Aware

Women Aware Advocates for Immigrant Survivors

“I believe the judicial system in New Jersey should be a place for all victims to find safety.” -Maria Betanzos, Assistant Executive Director

TRENTON—On June 5th, state lawmakers convened a public hearing on the practice of federal immigration officials arresting undocumented immigrants at New Jersey courthouses. Advocates worry that the practice will discourage undocumented victims of domestic violence from coming forward.

Women Aware joined with the New Jersey Coalition to End Domestic Violence, the ACLU, and other expert advocates to provide first-hand testimonial about the serious fallout of the practice. Women Aware’s Assistant Executive Director, Maria Betanzos testified:

“One of our clients is an undocumented woman from South America. Her abuser, a US citizen, brutally battered her and left her unconscious for two days. She remained in a coma for 3 months and suffered severe brain damage. Her children were placed in foster care. If she had felt safe to do so, she may have been able to access the security of our courts before this traumatic event nearly killed her.”

The threat of deportation at courthouses is putting immigrant victims at risk for serious injury and death. This is just one example of the cases we regularly encounter at Women Aware. We shelter over 200 women and children each year who are at high-risk of lethality, and to date, over 40% have been immigrants.

Women Aware is committed to a society where all individuals can live free from violence and injustice, regardless of immigration status.