Resource Library

Survivor Stories

Felicia’s Story

Felicia was physically abused by Rob for years. When she was pregnant, Rob held a knife to her abdomen and demanded money. He caught her using the phone against his orders and hit her in the face with it, causing a deep permanent scar. Another time she was hospitalized when he punched her in the face. He left for long periods, but returned to stay at random times. He threatened to report her to immigration authorities, and a family member did report her. She was arrested and ordered deported, but she didn’t leave the US because she had three children she couldn’t leave. Once he came to the house to get something and, unable to find it, threatened Felicia with a knife. She picked up the phone to call the police and he ripped it from the wall and threw it. He held the knife to her chest and told her that if she called the police he would kill her and her son. Her son ran out of the house and called the police and Rob was arrested. He threatened to kill her if she testified against him, but she ultimately agreed to testify. Rob pleaded guilty and was jailed. Felicia and her children started to recover from the abuse. But two weeks ago, immigration authorities arrested Felicia at her house and ordered her to leave the US by February 14. A friend told her to come to International Institute of the East Bay (IIEB). Although IIEB has a long list of immigrant crime victims waiting for service, it is agency policy to to expedite work for people facing imminent deportation. Staff and volunteers rushed to get the work done in just a few days. The Hayward police expedited getting her police report. The District Attorney’s Office rushed to complete the law enforcement certification of helpfulness. ICE permitted Felicia to stay in the US for 6 months pending adjudication of her U-Visa case. IIEB is working with a “Special Liaison Counsel” with USCIS and with Barbara Lee’s office to expedite processing of the U-Visa.

Carrie’s Story

Carrie (7484) fled her apartment with her children after Daniel was arrested for punching and terrorizing her. When she came to IIBA, Carrie was traumatized, homeless, and had no idea how to support her children. She had been a nurse in Mexico, but she could not work legally in the US because she was undocumented. Daniel had supported the family financially, and suddenly that support was gone. Fortunately, because Carrie helped the police arrest her abuser, she qualified for temporary immigration status available to crime victims pending implementation of the federal “U” crime victim visa. IIBA submitted Carrie’s application quickly to make her immediately eligible for CalWORKs and Medi-Cal under a special California provision for immigrant crime victims. Months later, she got her work permit and was able to work part time. IIBA helped convince officials that Carrie’s legal status made her eligible to attend community college, and Carrie enrolled in a pharmacy program. When Carrie came to our office last month, she was on top of the world. Daniel never found her or her children. Her daughters are happy in school and Carrie is able to support them while preparing to complete her classes in May. She already has a paid pharmacy internship lined up. She hopes to volunteer with IIBA when she graduates.

Rachel’s story

Richard physically abused Rachel for most of their 15 year marriage, but because she could not support her children alone, she felt she had no choice. She is an incredibly dedicated mother who is a parent leader in her children’s schools, an active member both of her congregation and a faith based community organization. On three occasions, she called police when her injuries were unbearable. Twice, Richard was jailed, but Rachel permitted him to return to support the family. In 2008, Berkeley police arrested Richard for punching Rachel in the eye, and Rachel was prepared to testify against him when she was picked up by Immigration authorities (ICE) for failure to obey a 1997 order to depart the US, and given a month to leave the country. Because IIBA has worked with other leaders in her community group, they knew about the U visa, and brought Rachel to us. We rushed to submit an extensively documented U visa application (that included 25 letters attesting to Rachel’s outstanding moral character), and then started work to try to keep her in the US with her children, despite the deportation order. With the enormous assistance of the Alameda County District Attorney, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, and officials at the US Immigration Service, we were able to stop the deportation, at least temporarily. Richard was deported, and IIBA helped Rachel get CalWORKs benefits and full scope Medi-Cal to keep the family going without Richard’s income. We hope she will receive work authorization in the coming months. Rachel is currently working with her community group to organize outreach to immigrant domestic violence survivors. IIBA is working on a training curriculum to teach Rachel and a half dozen other clients to conduct outreach.

In 1997, Richard and Rachel were in deportation proceedings and duped by a (since disbarred) attorney who charged them $9,000 to defend them against deportation. He lost their case, and they were ordered deported. Unable to leave her three US citizen daughters, Rachel did not leave as ordered.


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