Erma Alvarez says when her husband left her, he said it was to give their two children a better life.
But when he returned with another woman and began physically abusing her, she just wanted him to leave her be. But, the 47-year-old says, instead he began threatening to use her immigration status against her — an intimidation tactic that left her with overwhelming anxiety.
“They told me to go back to Mexico. They said they are going to call immigration on me and they are going to have me deported,” Alvarez, who is living in the U.S. illegally and resides in Denver, said through an interpreter. “They have me in an almost debilitating state with the shock and fear.”
Alvarez sought help from Latina Safehouse, a Denver-area nonprofit that specializes in serving domestic violence victims who are refugees or are living in the U.S. without legal immigration status. The group’s executive director, Angela Ceseña, says she has seen a sharp increase in the number of women reporting that their partners are threatening them with deportation as part of broader abuse.
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