Sexual Assault and Immigrants

In southern parts of Arizona you may come across miles and miles of desert with women’s clothing hanging from trees. These trees are being referred to as “rape trees” and represent in plain sight the horrible sexual violence many immigrant women face.

All immigrant women who are in the country legally or illegally may face the following challenges that put them at high risk for sexual violence:
· Language barrier
· Limited Employment Opportunities
· Misunderstanding about the U.S. legal system
· Fear of removal (deportation)
· Fear of community retaliation
· Fear of government officials

Facts to Know:

In the United States there is no residency or citizenship requirement for protection orders, civil court, or criminal court.Everyone has the right to police protection. There is no federal or state statute for police to report immigration status of victims.

The Violence Against Women’s Act (2000) provides protection for immigrants facing the aftermath of sexual assault. Victims of sexual crimes may qualify for U visa –Deferred Action status (interim relief). The same health and counselling services offered to citizens are offered to immigrants.

The Southern Arizona Battered Immigrant Women Project has established six task forces to assist immigrant women in Arizona’s seven southern counties: Graham, Greenlee, Cochise, Pinal, Pima, Santa Cruz and Yuma Counties.