Newsletter: October 2014

Vol. 1 • Issue 2 • October 2014

In this Issue:

  • Demographics of Unaccompanied Minors in the United States
  • Screening Children and Crime Victims for Immigration Relief Eligibility Using a Trauma Informed Approach
  • Comparing Public Benefits for Forms of Immigration Relief
  • Latest Developments at NIWAP
  • Webinars
  • Publications
  • Student Corner
  • Trainings

Demographics of Unaccompanied Minors in the United States

From October 2013 through September 30, 2014 there was a 77% increase in the number of unaccompanied minors that have crossed the border into the United States.

Most of the children crossing the border turn themselves over to U.S. customs and border patrol officials. Once in the United States, immigrant children who are unaccompanied minors are processed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) for care, custody and placement in a temporary facility while efforts are made to place each child with suitable family members or other sponsors in the United States. Children who are unable to find sponsors, or children without qualifying sponsors, remain in ORR custody and are housed in longer term custodial facilities under contracts with HHS.

Read More…

Screening Clients for Immigration Relief and the Importance of Trauma Informed Care.

Screening clients for immigration relief is a vital first step in identifying whether or not they may qualify. A client who has been the victim of a crime, especially an immigrant victim of crime, may not initially provide the type of information that will signal their attorney or advocate that they are eligible for immigration relief. Often times, especially when they have experienced trauma, immigrant victims of crime struggle to reveal intimate details of their history. In other cases, the client may just not be aware that the information is relevant and therefore not disclose it to their attorney or advocate. In order to best serve clients, NIWAP has developed several screening tools and intake questionnaires that may draw out facts and stories that flag potential immigration relief.

This comprehensive screening checklist will help attorneys and advocates evaluate a client’s eligibility for VAWA, U and T visas, Battered Spouse Waivers, work authorization, and more. Additionally, this screening checklist will help evaluate any minor client for SIJS.

When filing for immigration relief, writing the most compelling story is often vital to a successful application. In cases where the client has been a victim of trauma, getting them to tell their story in a way that makes them feel comfortable can be extraordinarily difficult. Cultural, language, and emotional barriers all play an important role in why a client may not be able to effectively communicate all the details of their abuse. Our Trauma Informed Structured Interview Questionnaire for Immigration Cases will help attorneys and advocates develop victim affidavits for VAWA, T visa, U visa, and other victim based immigration cases using an approach that at the same time helps victims heal from trauma. The method for using this trauma informed tool is described here. NIWAP worked with trauma experts to develop these tools as well as webinars and training videos to help attorneys and advocates work with victims who are in trauma and working through trauma.

Access to Public Benefits Depends on Type of Immigration Status

Public benefits can be extremely useful tools for immigrant women and children, especially those escaping abuse.

An individuals’ ability to access public benefits programs (e.g. TANF, health care, drivers’ licenses) depends both on their immigration status and their state of residence. Some forms of immigration status come with more access to federally and state funded public benefits than others. For example, T visa holders are able to access post-secondary education and public and assisted housing while U visa holders are not.

For an analysis of the types of federal benefits each immigration status provides and whether that individual may also receive state benefits, see our charts comparing forms of immigration relief.

There are some benefits and services available to all persons without regard to immigration status, including undocumented immigrants. An overview of the federal public benefits available to immigrant crime victims is available here.

For an in depth analysis on what specific benefits your state offers please view our interactive public benefits map. Click on your state to see the immigrant demographics in your area and choose from the list of benefits to the right to see if your state offers child care, food stamps, TANF, in-state tuition options, and many more.


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

Upcoming and Recent Trainings (recent trainings include a link to materials):

  • Anchorage, Alaska – Oct. 8, 2014 –Magistrate Judges, Judges and Court Staff
  • Bloomington, Minnesota – Oct. 22, 2014 Praxis for OVW grantees- Rural law enforcement agencies, their advocates and partners
  • Albuquerque, New Mexico – Oct. 24, 2014 – Albuquerque Police Department, Enlace Communitario – Language Access Training for police who are first responders at crime scenes
  • Salt Lake City, Utah –Nov. 20, 2014 –State court Judges and court staff – “State Courts and the Protection of Immigrant Crime Victims and Children”
  • Rehoboth, Delaware –Dec. 5, 2014 –State court Commissioners “State Courts and the Protection of Immigrant Crime Victims and Children”


For more information on NIWAP, see our brochure!

Latest Developments at NIWAP:


Legal Services for All: New 2014 Legal Services Corporation Regulations Implementing VAWA 2005’s Immigrant Crime Survivor’s Access to Legal Services: This webinar will discuss the recent expansion of legal services. It will be presented by NIWAP in partnership with US Department of Justice, Office of Violence Against Women and the National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA) This free webinar will take place November 3, 2014, if interested in attending register today!

Educational Equity Beyond Access: Institutional Support for DACAmented and Undocumented Students, presented with the National Forum on Higher Education for the Public Good and the National Center for Institutional Diversity at the University of Michigan. This webinar will address how DACA has evolved with regards to the newly instated renewal process. Further, the webinar will discuss the forms of immigration relief that include a path to lawful permanent residency that DACAmented and undocumented students may qualify for. It is crucial that professionals throughout the network of student support understand the multiple avenues that lead to legal immigration status, work authorization, lawful permanent residency and ultimately citizenship for students or their family members. This webinar will take place November 12, 2014. Register today!

Understanding the Intersection of Immigration Law in State Court Proceedings Presented with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence: This webinar will discuss the importance of state court’s having legally accurate information regarding immigration law and immigrant litigants in court. It is intended for Pennsylvania judges, law clerks, and court staff. It will take place November 5, 2014, if interested in attending register today!

Recent Publications

NIWAP Benefits Map: This interactive map allows you to click on your state and see a comprehensive list of public benefits available to immigrant clients in your area. Please call us at 202-274-4457 with any questions.

Comparison Charts: NIWAP provides you with a nuts-and-bolts overview of similar forms of immigration relief. Our charts explain who is eligible, what the process looks like, what benefits successful applicants receive, and the necessary relationship between applicant and perpetrator.


NIWAP welcomes student to register for Legislative and Administrative Advocacy: Immigrant Women Law and Policy. This course, taught by Professor Leslye Orloff, Director, NIWAP and Ronald LeGrand, Counsel, House Committee on the Judiciary will be offered Mondays this Spring 2015. Students will gain experience with legislative history research, drafting regulations, writing policy and legal reform recommendations, and working with government agencies. Sign up for both the seminar LAW 795T-001B and the practicum LAW795T-001A.

Speaker Series

NIWAP’s second speaker series was October 7 at Washington College of Law. Leslye Orloff, Ronald LeGrand and Tom Jawetz, both from the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on the Judiciary met to discuss legislative approaches to vulnerable populations with law students. Each speaker shared their experiences with legislation relating to vulnerable populations on Capitol Hill. The speakers discussed the important role advocates play in facilitating conversations amongst members of Congress as well as how the political atmosphere can influence lawmaking. To learn more about upcoming events in our speakers series, follow us on Twitter. For opportunities to volunteer to help out at NIWAP, email us at

We’re on Youtube & Twitter:

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 material. 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.

© 2014 National Immigrant Women’s Advocacy Project. The contents of this publication may be reprinted. Any reprinting must be accompanied by the following acknowledgement: This material was reprinted from the National Immigrant Women’s Advocacy Project, American University, Washington College of Law.

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