Economic Crisis, Politics and The Menace To Battered Immigrants' Rights

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 5:50 PM
Room: 413
Oral Presentation
Roberta VILLALON , Sociology & Anthropology, St. John's University, Queens, NY
The anti-immigration measures and xenophobic sentiments that have spread since the eruption of the financial crisis in 2008 have been significantly detrimental for immigrant survivors of intimate partner violence in the United States.  In common times, this group is particularly vulnerable to abuse because of the intersection of their members’ gender, sexuality, nationality, race, ethnicity, language, religion, immigration status, isolation, cross-national frames of cultural and legal reference, and socioeconomic standing.  All of these factors influence the way in which aggression is inflicted and endured, and affect the availability of resources for immigrants to escape and overcome abusive relationships. The economic recession, anti-immigration policies and a rising xenophobic environment have all created additional hurdles for battered immigrants given that employment opportunities have declined, exploitative work conditions have worsened, and immigration controls have increased.  In this pressing context, immigrant survivors of intimate partner violence have been faced with empowered abusers whose threats of deportation became real; ambivalent law enforcement officers who instead of protecting battered immigrants may be forced to collaborate with immigration officers; and a widespread sense of fear with its paralyzing and isolating effects.  At the same time, most nonprofit organizations providing services for battered immigrants have met serious budget cuts that curtailed their ability to serve the increasing number of survivors approaching them.  Based on interviews with service providers across the nation, participant observation of networks of battered immigrants’ advocates, and a close reading of debates around the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), I analyze how these dire circumstances have been critical for not only immigrant survivors of gender violence, but also the battered immigrants’ and battered women’s movements.