Newsletter: September 2014

Vol. 1 • Issue 1 • September 2014

In this Issue:

Welcome to the National Immigrant Women’s Advocacy Project (NIWAP, pronounced new-app) newsletter!
The NIWAP staff are excited to launch our monthly newsletter. This newsletter will provide you with up to date information about legal protections, policy changes, and other developments as they pertain to immigrant women, children and immigrant victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, child abuse, elder abuse, stalking and other crimes. This newsletter will also provide information what is happening at NIWAP: events we’re hosting, training materials we’re publishing, research we are undertaking, reports were are issuing and more. Throughout this and our future newsletters you will find links to: statutes, government policies and regulations, legislative history, training manuals, materials, toolkits, and other relevant information to better assist you in your work. Please forward this newsletter to others in your community who are interested in issues affecting immigrant crime victims, women, and children. (If you did not receive this newsletter from NIWAP directly, you may subscribe here.) Feel free to contact NIWAP ( or 202-247-4457) with any questions. Thank you for the work you are doing! We look forward to supporting your work with immigrant survivors, women and children and working in partnership with your organization.

Leslye Orloff
Director, NIWAP

Latest Developments

New Standard for Domestic Violence Victims in Asylum Cases

A recent Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA)  decision opened the door to victims of domestic violence to receive asylum based on their abusive relationships.  The BIA ruling stated that “married women in Guatemala who are unable to leave their relationship” formed a particular social group for the purposes of an asylum claim.  The BIA found that this group had two immutable characteristics: their marital status and their gender.  For a full summary of this case and the complete opinion, visit the NIWAP web library.  Also, be sure to check out Chapter 12 on gender-based asylum in our manual Empowering Survivors: Legal Rights of Immigrant Victims of Sexual Assault, which we have updated to include information about the BIA’s new ruling.  It is important to note that asylum law is a legally complex process.  To pursue a claim of gender-based asylum, it is critical to first contact an immigration attorney with expertise in immigration options for immigrant victims of crimes.  To locate programs with this expertise, contact NIWAP at 202-274-4457 or

New Legal Service Corporation (LSC) Regulations Improve Access to Legal Services for Immigrant Crime Victims

LSC amended their regulations in April 2014 to implement the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) 2005 expansions in access to legal services to immigrant crime victims under anti-abuse laws. Immigrant crime victims may receive help that is “directly related to preventing, healing from, ameliorating the effect of, and preventing future abuse.” The abuse covered under VAWA 2005 and these regulations includes battering or extreme cruelty, domestic violence, intimate partner violence, child abuse, elder abuse, sexual assault, human trafficking, and U visa criminal activity. The anti-abuse pathway to legal services under the new LSC regulations implementing VAWA 2005 allow immigrant crime victims to receive legal assistance on a wide range of legal matters, related to the prevention of, obtaining relief from, ameliorating the effects of, protection from or escaping abuse.  This includes immigration, family law, employment, public benefits, housing, healthcare,  abuse & neglect, or other matters connected to the abuse. Once an immigrant has filed for lawful permanent residency, they also qualify for legal representation on additional matters not related to the abuse based on their immigration status. For more information on the new LSC regulations, please see NIWAP’s summary.

Speaker Series

Leslye Orloff and Ronald LeGrand

Leslye Orloff and Ronald LeGrand

NIWAP’s first event in the series was on September 4 at the Washington College of Law.  NIWAP Director Leslye Orloff and Ronald LeGrand, Counsel, U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on the Judiciary, introduced students to NIWAP and spoke about exciting projects for the seminar course, which will offer law students hands-on immigration and policy experience.  For more information on the course, check out this flyer.  To learn more about upcoming events in our speaker series, follow us on Twitter.  For volunteer opportunities at NIWAP, email us at

Recent Publications


NIWAP is pleased to announce that we can provide training in your state! Thanks to a State Justice Institute (SJI) grant, NIWAP is delivering workshops, half day and full day trainings around the country! Trainers include NIWAP’s own Leslye Orloff in addition to a team of judges experienced in immigration law, family law, and criminal cases and staff from the Center for Public Policy Studies. Visit our website for materials from past trainings.

Upcoming Trainings:

  • Lanham, Maryland- Sept. 24- “Effective Advocacy for Immigrant Survivors: Immigration Protections, Benefits Access, and Trauma Informed Services”- for more information visit the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence (MNADV).
  • Salt Lake City, Utah- Nov. 20- for Judges- “State Courts and the Protection of Immigrant Crime Victims and Children”


  • Battered Immigrants and Immigrant Crime Victims’ Access to Justice under the New Legal Services Corporation Regulation – Date: October 2014 (TBD)
  • VAWA Confidentiality in Various Court Contexts– Date: December 2014 (TBD)

New Orleans Conference

NIWAP, in coordination with the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Violence Against Women, hosted a conference August 6-7, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The conference theme was “Creative Solutions to Strengthen Advocacy Options and Healing for Survivors.” The meeting featured plenary sessions on public benefits for immigrant survivors, VAWA confidentiality, the use of trauma-informed care, and judges’ perspectives on immigration issues in state court cases. The conference also featured workshops on a range of other topics to encourage specialization and foster conversation on particular issues. Attendees included advocates, attorneys, and justice system personnel, providing an interdisciplinary approach to helping immigrant survivors. Throughout the conference, participants were encouraged participate in group activities and ask any questions they might have about immigration issues, promoting application of conference educational materials to real-life cases. You can access the conference materials and powerpoints online.


Be Sure to Check out our Web Library:
This Resource Library and Technical Assistance Center provides timely information on a vast array of topics of interest to those working across the country to help immigrant victims, women and children. The NIWAP library contains a wide range of materials, including legislative history, training manuals, toolkits, sample briefs and motions, factsheets, practice tools, research reports, benchcards, tools for law enforcement, and government policies and regulations. This searchable library of resources is designed to be used by OVW grantees and other advocates, attorneys, judges and service providers.

We’re on Youtube & Twitter: YouTube Channel

NIWAP has its own YouTube channel.  New to an issue?  Access NIWAP training videos 24-7.  We have posted our recent webinars covering topics that include “Training for Advocates and Attorneys on Trauma-Informed Work with Immigrant Women,” “Obtaining U Visa Certification from Judges,”  “An Introduction of Law Enforcement to the U Visa,” and “Law Enforcement and Advocates Partnering to Serve Immigrant Crime Victims.”  These videos are helpful for new and seasoned immigrant advocates, attorneys, law enforcement, judges, court staff, and students.  To view other materials from these webinars, visit the NIWAP library for training materials.  You can also use our Twitter feed to receive interesting and relevant updates.

Have questions on Immigrant Survivors’ Legal Rights?

NIWAP offers technical assistance to advocates, attorneys, social services and health care providers, justice system personnel, and others working with immigrant victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and human trafficking. To submit your questions, email or you can call NIWAP at 202-274-4457. Be sure to provide a description of the issue so we can better assist you. Examples of questions we’ve addressed in the past:

  • How does VAWA confidentiality operate in a family court context?
  • Are courts required to have interpreters for limited English proficiency (LEP) speakers and deaf persons?
  • What do the new Legal Services Corporation (LSC) regulations mean for crime victims’ access to justice?
  • What public benefits are available to VAWA self-petitioners, U-Visa, and T-Visa applicants? What is the impact of the Affordable Care Act on immigrant access to healthcare?
  • What are battered immigrants’ and immigrant crime victims’ options to attain legal immigration status and protection from deportation?
  • What vital documents should my agency translate and in what language?

Find professional resources in your area via our Directory

NIWAP’s web directory offers a nationwide list of programs in your state and community that have expertise working with immigrant victims, women and children.  Use our directory to make referrals and find assistance for immigrant crime victims.  You can search by location, language, and organization type. Be sure to check that your organization is listed and all of your information is accurate.  With your assistance, we can create a comprehensive list of programs where immigrant victims can turn to for help when in need.

Get to Know NIWAP
Learn more about the NIWAP staff:
Leslye Orloff – Director
Rocio Molina – Associate Director
Bebe Anver – Policy Staff Attorney
Levi Wolberg – Data Manager
Meaghan Fitzpatrick – Immigrant Women Law and Policy Fellow
Spencer Cantrell – NIWAP Gender Violence Fellow

Student Corner
NIWAP is a part of the Washington College of Law Community.  Consider taking a course taught by NIWAP’s founder and director about legislative advocacy.  If you’re interested in volunteering, email

Easy Ways to Get Involved and Stay Connected to NIWAP:

  1. Contact us for technical assistance at
  2. Keep an eye out for surveys in future newsletters so you can tell us what is going on in the field.
  3. Attend trainings and webinars.

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