Mail Order Brides and the Abuse of Immigrant Women
Webwork by Nikki Craft

I was born in 1975 on the year of the rabbit. My family is from a small farming village called Taipei. They immigrated to the United States to give birth to me so that I could be an American citizen. However, i have often longed for the modest living of my ancestrial habitat in Taipei. I fantasize about drawing water from a make-shift well at the village center wear-ing nothing but a potato sack and thong sandals. My dream is to marry a white American man and return to the simple life I never had a chance to live. We can do that right here in the United States. You could dig a hole in your backyard and fill it with water. That'll be our swimming pool, I mean our village well. I could still wear nothing but a potato sack all day. As you come home from one of your many business trips, you can describe to me the sexual acts you witnessed at prostitution bars in the Philippines, and I can attempt to perform them! It'll be great! We will have a relationship based on kinky sex and gender inequality. Can't wait to meet you!


A License To Abuse:
The Impact of Conditional Status on Female Immigrants

by Michelle J. Anderson

Text and footnotes reprinted from The Yale Law Journal
Volume 102 . April 1993 . Number 6

Copyright (c) 1993 by The Yale Law Journal

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The statutory scheme of conditional residency that affects Ngan, Raco, and Merta consists of two major legislative acts--the Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments (IMFA) of 1986 and a battered-spouse amendment to the IMFA of 1988--and subsequent INS regulations implementing those acts.

A. The Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments (IMFA)

After the 1952 Immigration and Nationality Act, an alien who married a U.S. citizen or LPR could, adjust his or her immigration status and become a legal permanent resident without leaving the country.(59) In recent years, however, legislators have become concerned about incidents of "marriage fraud" in which a foreign national marries a citizen or LPR for the sole purpose of obtaining legal immigration status. Believing that a "tide" of foreign-born persons was gaining legal status in this country through dubious marriages,(60) Congress passed the IMFA of, 1986,(61) which created a series of legal encumbrance for those wishing to marry foreign nationals. The IMFA was passed four days after a larger immigration law package called the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986.(62)

The IMFA, which primarily burdened female immigrants, changed the status of aliens who marry citizens or LPR's(63) Before the IMFA, when a U.S. citizen or LPR who married a foreign national petitioned for his immigrant spouse, she was afforded permanent residency.(64) Emboldened by a cross-national survey called "Immigration Marriage Fraud: Controls in Most Countries Surveyed Stronger than in U.S.," which found that seven out of twelve countries surveyed had a revokable conditional resident status bestowed on all noncitizens who married citizens, Congress passed the IMFA to require that a citizen or LPR spouse petition for the "conditional"' resident status of his immigrant spouse.(65) The conditional period commenced on the date the immigrant obtained conditional status, not at the beginning of the marriage.(66) After the INS granted the immigrant conditional resident status, the law mandated that conditional status last for a period of at least two years, during which time the couple must remain married.(67) Administrative delays in visa processing meant that an immigrant's conditional status could continue for four years, or more.(68) If the marriage dissolved at any time during the conditional residency, the immigrant lost conditional status in this country and became a deportable illegal alien.(69)

Once the INS granted conditional status, an immigrant became locked in a narrow procedural corridor. She qualified for legal permanent residence only if she and her spouse jointly petitioned the INS before the end of two years to adjust her conditional status to permanent residence. Both, partners had to participate in a personal interview with the INS.(70) All other options for an immigrant to gain legal status evaporated; as a conditional resident she could not adjust her immigration status on any other statutory grounds.(71) Consequently, in most cases, her ability to remain, legally in the United States depended exclusively on the goodwill of her husband and the continued viability of her marriage.(72)

Under the IMFA, the INS waived the joint petition requirement only in rare cases: the death of the citizen spouse, the showing of good-cause termination, or the showing of extreme hardship from deportation.(73) For a divorced conditional resident to obtain a good-cause waiver to the joint petition phase of the process, she had to demonstrate that she entered the marriage in good faith and that she initiated divorce proceedings for "good cause."(74) The regulations did not indicate whether or not spousal abuse qualified as "good cause."(75) Further, divorce proceedings in "no-fault" divorce states such as California produced little evidence to support a claim of "good cause."(76)

Alternatively, a conditional resident must prove that deportation would subject her to "extreme hardship" resulting from circumstances that arose during her two-year conditional residence.(77) Such a showing is difficult to make, particularly since the INS is unlikely to find extreme hardship except in rare cases."(78) Battering by one's spouse in this country would not qualify one for this kind of waiver because extreme hardship from deportation, not the extreme hardship one endures in a marriage, is what is at issue.(79)

B. The Immigration Act of 1990

On September 27, 1989, the House Judiciary Committee on Immigration, Refugees and International Law held a hearing on the domestic violence occurring in marriages between immigrants and American citizens. Representative Louise M. Slaughter described the abuse of one conditional resident in Rochester, New York who sought her help,(80) and her own dismay when, "Once we looked into her legal options, we realized she had none."(81)

To remedy this dilemma, Representative Slaughter introduced a bill in the House called the Marriage Fraud Amendments Act of 1989.(82) Representative Bruce, Morrison included a version of this bill in § 701 of his comprehensive immigration legislation which passed in November 29, 1990 and became the Immigration Act of 1990.(83) The legislation's purpose was to provide that both battery and extreme cruelty could qualify an immigrant for a waiver of conditional status whenever, during the two-year period, it is alleged and proven. The amended law states that, if a conditional resident demonstrates that "the qualifying marriage was entered into in good faith by the alien spouse" and that "the alien spouse or child was battered by or was the subject of extreme cruelty perpetrated by his or her spouse," then the limitations of conditional resident status are removed and the foreign-born spouse is granted permanent legal resident status.(84)

This legislation also eliminated the good cause waiver and provided a waiver based on the termination of a good faith marriage without regard to who initiated the divorce or the reason for the divorce.(85) Desiring that the law cease to be an instrument by which immigrant women were victimized, Representative Slaughter said she hoped the legislation would provide immigrant spouses "an escape from beatings, insults and fear."(86)

C. The INS Regulations

On May. 16, 1991, the INS published "interim" rules"(87) amending the conditional residence regulations to implement the new legislation."(88) The rules established standards by which immigration officers were to process claims for battered-spouse waivers for adjustment of conditional to permanent status. The waiver exception into INS separated the two spheres: physical battery and extreme mental cruelty.(89) Under the new rules, battered spouses are required to prove abuse by providing the INS with certain types of evidence. Proof of physical battery may include "expert testimony in the form of reports and affidavits from police, judges, medical personnel, school officials and social service agency personnel."(90) The regulations mandate that the INS "must be satisfied with the credibility of the sources of documentation submitted in support of the application."(91)

Documentation requirements for claims of extreme mental cruelty are more stringent. The regulations assert that the INS  "is not in a position to evaluate testimony regarding a claim of extreme mental cruelty provided by unlicensed or untrained individuals."(92) Thus, waiver applications based on extreme mental cruelty "must be supported by the evaluation of a professional recognized by the Service as an expert in the field."(93) The only professionals recognized by the INS for the purpose of obtaining extreme mental cruelty waivers are "[l]icensed clinical social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists."(94) The INS reserves the right to "request additional evaluations from expert witnesses chosen by the Service."(95)

The INS received 180 written responses(96) to the interim rules during the month-long public comment period of May 16 to June 17, 1991.(97) Most of those responses were from agencies serving battered women and immigrants.(98) Every written response to the regulations opposed the evidentiary requirements for proving mental cruelty, and nearly half of them objected to the evidentiary requirements for proving physical assault.(99) Not one of the 180 responses supported the rules as they were written.(100) These letters primarily criticized the way in which the INS rules curtailed the intended benefits of the battered-spouse waiver to the IMFA requirements.


Although Congress attempted to alleviate the suffering of abused immigrant women through the Immigration Act of 1990, the legislation was flawed and incomplete. Unfortunately, the subsequent INS regulations have made the situation worse. The current statutory and regulatory framework--the IMFA of 1986, the Immigration Act of 1990, and the INS regulations--allows husbands to control the petitioning process for women who have not yet obtained conditional status, establishes evidentiary requirements for adjusting from conditional to permanent status that the vast majority of immigrant women can never hope to meet, and ignores the community barriers facing immigrant women as well as immigrants' fear of bureaucratic entanglement.

A. Husbands' Control Over the Initial Petitioning Process

Under the current regulatory framework, a citizen or LPR must petition the INS to establish the legal conditional residence of his immigrant spouse in situations where the marriage is less than two years old. After the two-year conditional residency, a citizen or LPR must join the immigrant in petitioning the INS to adjust her conditional status to permanent residence. This allows a batterer to coerce his immigrant spouse at two points in the process: 1) before he has ever petitioned the INS for the conditional residency of his immigrant wife, and 2) after he has petitioned for her conditional status, but before he agrees to petition jointly to adjust her conditional status to permanent status. Because the battered-spouse waiver of the Immigration Act of 1990 applies only to those already having conditional status, it attempts to eliminate the potential coercion only in the latter cases.

The legislation and subsequent regulations thus fail to respond to the abuse of what is likely the larger population of battered women--those immigrants whose husbands never filed petitions for their legal status.(101) Such women simply "fall through the cracks."(102) Thus, the battered-spouse waiver does not assist all abused immigrant women. It assists only those whose husbands have already petitioned the INS for their conditional status.

Furthermore, delay tactics can prolong a batterer's coercion over his spouse. Unless they can petition for conditional or permanent status themselves, immigrant women can be trapped in abusive relationships for an indefinite number of years.(103)

B.. Unreasonable Evidentiary Requirements

The INS will not accept credible, personal affidavits as adequate proof of extreme mental cruelty (even if such statements are substantiated by other, nonprofessional affidavits).(104) Thus, the, INS regulations arguably create an "impossibly high standard of proof."(105) Immigrant women usually do not turn to the mental health professionals or to the counselors needed to prove mental cruelty.(106) Indications are that many cannot. A survey of the psychiatrists, psychologists, and clinical social workers in the entire Los Angeles area, which has one of the largest concentrations of immigrants in the United States, revealed that there were "very few" bilingual professionals available. Of those available, most were private and would not evaluate clients without charge.(107) Without resources to pay for a translator or social workers, psychiatrists, or psychologists,(108) an abused immigrant cannot prove extreme mental cruelty.(109) Moreover, the evidence required to establish extreme mental cruelty focuses entirely on the mental state of the victim, rather than on the actions of the abuser. A resilient woman who does not clinically evince the debilitating effects of psychological cruelty may not be able to obtain a waiver, even if she deserves one based on the level of abuse she sustains.

In addition to being excessive for immigrant women, the mental cruelty evidentiary requirement may be inconsistent with congressional intent.(110) Representative Bruce Morrison, who sponsored the Marriage Fraud Amendments Act with Representative Slaughter, responded to the INS interpretation of the law by stating, "The INS has a legitimate concern about fraud and they may rightly require corroboration, but the law we passed made no specific requirement for medical or professional evidence.(111) He went on to explain, "Professional standards are probably doing more than Congress asked for or needed. We directed the INS to write protection regulations, not fraud regulations."' (112)

When confronted with the potential discrepancy between congressional intent and the language of the regulations, Bonnie Derwinski, INS Director for Congressional and Public Affairs, stated that "the potential for misuse of the waiver provision dictates the need for some type of evidence beyond the applicant's simple written assertion that he or she felt unfairly treated in a relationship."(113) Representative Slaughter has responded to the INS claims pointedly: the requirement for professional evaluations for claims based on extreme mental cruelty is "obscene" given the fact that the law seeks to address a class of women who, "almost by definition," do not have access to professional help.(114) Many observers have noted that immigrant women are desperate by the time they seek refuge in a shelter."(115) Representative Slaughter has concluded that the INS regulations enact "excessively stringent and unprecedented proof requirements which undermine Congressional intent."(116) Linda Ikeda-Vogel, executive director of the Center for the Pacific Asian Family in Los Angeles, has concluded that, even with the battered-spouse waiver provisions, "Our clients lose out. Immigrant women are [still] at the mercy of their husbands, despite changes in the law."(117)

C. Community Barriers and Fears of Bureaucratic Entanglement

Poverty, lack of access to services, lack of privacy in extended family dwellings and closely knit communities, and fears for their own safety(118) can impede many battered conditional residents from obtaining waivers under the present regulations.(119) Before she calls for help, an immigrant woman must face the possibility of ending her marriage, which means accepting the social consequences attendant to divorce in her community. As in many nonimmigrant communities, strong mores concerning religion, marriage, divorce, family, and gender roles hinder women from stopping domestic violence and ending abusive relationships.(120) In particular, traditional social systems favoring patriarchal relations(121) are strong predictive variables of violence.(122)

The normative goals of any traditional community can clash in a more obvious fashion with other facets of the legal system. Lawyers and counselors may encourage battered immigrants to seek temporary restraining orders (TRO's) to keep abusive spouses away.(123) An immigrant's fear for her own safety(124) may create in her a strong resistance to confrontation.(125) Hence, many women, when faced with a complex bureaucracy that would force them to risk their safety by being confrontational, will capitulate and become undocumented. Others will simply return to their abusers.(126)

One study of undocumented immigrants found that for 64% of Latinas and 57% of Filipinas, the primary barrier to seeking help from social service agencies is the fear of deportation.(127) Immigrant residents are often terrified of authority, and particularly of the INS.(128) Some women do not call the police for fear that their LPR spouses, if charged with wife battery, may be deported.(129) Economic dependence and fear of being forced to leave the country with their children if their spouses were deported(130) keeps other women wary of police. Many would rather stay in abusive relationships than risk facing the INS and deportation.(131)

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(59) 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(15) (1988). Before 1952, an alien had to depart the country and apply to consular officials to obtain legal permanent residence. Linda Bird Francke, The Mating Game, NEWSWEEK, Jan. 19, 1976, at 48. BACK

(60) See Arthur F. Corwin, The Numbers Game: Estimates of Illegal Aliens in the United States, 1970-1981, 45 LAW & CONTEMP. PROBS. 223 (1982); Joe A. Tucker, Assimilation to the United States: A Study of the Adjustment of Status and the Immigration Marriage Fraud Statutes, 7 YALE L. & POL'Y REV. 20, 28-29 (1989) (explaining that both Immigration Reform and Control Act and Marriage Fraud Act were based on highly speculative assertions of a "rising tide of illegal[s]"); Karen L. Rae,, Comment, Alienating Sham Marriages for Tougher Immigration Penalties: Congress Enacts the Marriage Fraud Act, 15 PEPP. L. REV. 181, 182-83, n.17 (1988) (citing articles discussing "sham marriages" as "the most popular ploy ... to beat the immigration system"); Note, The Constitutionality of the INS Sham Marriage Investigation Policy, 99 HARV. L. REV. 1238, 1241 n.20 (1986) (citing interview with Senator Alan Simpson concerning magnitude of sham marriage. problem).
     A brief consideration of who defrauds whom in "sham marriages" clarifies the dynamics of marriage fraud. In some cases, the foreign national defrauds both the citizen and the INS in an effort to gain legal status in the United States. Single citizen women with children are particularly susceptible to this tactic. See Tucker, supra, at 32-33; Andree Brooks, Single Mothers Are. the Targets in Marriage Fraud, N.Y. TIMES, June 13, 1985, at C I. In other instances, the citizen or LPR conspires with the alien to defraud the INS. See Francke, supra note 59; Bob Reiss, The Melting Plot: Grooming for the Green Card with Money-Order Brides, WASH. POST, July 17, 1977, Magazine, at 12.
     The exact figures on the incidence of marriage fraud are difficult to determine. In the past, the INS has asserted a 30% fraud rate between foreign nationals and U.S. citizens or LPR's. Immigration Marriage Fraud, Hearings on S.521-15 before the Subcomm. on Immigration and Refugee Policy of the Senate Comm. on the Judiciary, 99th Cong., Ist Sess. 35 (1985) [hereinafter Fraud Hearings] (statement of INS Commissioner Alan C. Nelson); Marriage Fraud Amendment Regulations, 53 Fed. Reg. 2426 (Jan. 27, 1988). Today, however, the INS asserts that the rate of marriage fraud is closer to 8%. The INS contends that the rate of marriage fraud in the greater Los Angeles area, which it estimates at 15%, is one of the highest in the United States. Tammerlin Drummond, Green Card: Real Life Drama Is a Cat and Mouse Game, L.A. TIMES, Apr. 21, 1991, at A3. However, the INS figures are of questionable reliability. INS Reveals Basis for Fraud Claims, 65 INTERPRETER RELEASES 26 (1988) (explaining that extremely small (one-twentieth of one percent), nonrandom statistical sample was employed, rendering any conclusions speculative); Fraud Hearings, supra, at 88 (statement of Jules E. Covan, President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association). BACK

(61) Pub. L. No. 99-639, 100 Stat. 3537 (codified at 8 U.S.C. §§ 1184(d), 1186a (1988)). BACK

(62) Pub. L. No. 99-603, 100 Stat. 3359 (1986) (codified in scattered sections of 8 U.S.C.). BACK

(63) Tucker calls the IMFA "an appalling attempt to conserve administrative resources at the cost of 'human capital."' Tucker, supra note 60, at 50, 94; see also William Tamayo, The Evolution of United States Immigration Policy, in DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, supra note 4, at IV-7, 8. BACK

(64) Marriage Fraud Amendment Regulations, 53 Fed. Reg. 2426 (1988) (citing history of "permitting immediate family members of United States citizens to immigrate to the United States without numerical limitation"). BACK

(65) 8 U.S.C. § 1186a(a)(1) (1988). BACK

(66) 8 U.S.C. § 11 86a(a)(2) (1988); see also INS Issues Further Instructions on Immigration Marriage Fraud Law, 63 INTERPRETER RELEASES 1076, 1077 (1986) [hereinafter INS Issues Instructions]. BACK

(67) 8 U.S.C. § 1186a(g) (1988). BACK

(68) Tucker, supra note 60, at 35. BACK

(69) 8 U.S.C. §§ 1186a(b)(1), (2) (1988) ("[I]f the Attorney General determines, before the second anniversary of the alien's obtaining the status of lawful admission for [conditional] permanent residence, that ... the qualifying marriage ... has been judicially annulled or terminated ... the Attorney General ... shall terminate the [conditional] permanent resident status of the alien (or aliens) involved . . ."); see also Matter of Lehammad, No. A-27935756, Interim Decision 3150, 1991 B.I.A. LEXIS 13 (holding that the burden is on the INS to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that one of the conditions of termination has been met). BACK

(70) 8 U.S.C. §§ 1186a(c), (d) (1988). BACK

(71) 8 U.S.C. § 1255(d) (1988); 53 Fed. Reg. 2426 (1988); INS Issues Instructions, supra note 66, at 1079. A foreign national whose conditional status has been terminated, however, may seek relief from deportation. See Matter of Stockwell,, No. A-28541697, Interim Decision 3150, 1991 B.I.A. LEXIS 11 (holding that Immigration and Nationality Act does not prohibit alien whose conditional status has been terminated from adjusting her status). BACK

(72) Tucker, supra note 60, at 29. BACK

(73) 8 U.S.C. §§ 1186a(c)(1), (c)(4) (1988). A waiver adjusts one's conditional status to permanent resident status. BACK

(74) 8 U.S.C. § 1186a(c)(4)(B) (1988). BACK

(75) Tucker, supra note 60, at 38. Good cause is "used in the regulation in accordance with [its] everyday meaning." 53 Fed. Reg. 30,015 (1988). BACK

(76) Tucker, supra note 60, at 38; Fellom, supra note 4. BACK

(77) 8 U.S.C. § 1186(c)(4)(A) (1988) ("In determining extreme hardship, the Attorney General shall consider circumstances occurring only during the period that the alien was admitted for permanent residence on a conditional basis."). BACK

(78) INS v. Wang, 450 U.S. 139, 145 (1981) ("The Attorney General and his delegates have the authority to construe 'extreme hardship' narrowly"); Hernandez-Patino v. INS, 831 F.2d 750, 754-55 (7th Cir. 1987) (holding that economic deprivation, lack of family assistance and denial of special education for disabled children do not constitute extreme hardship for relief from deportation). BACK

(79) Letter from Bonnie Derwinski, INS Director of Congressional and Public Affairs, to the Honorable Louise Slaughter (Oct. 19, 1989), reprinted in 66 INTERPRETER RELEASES 1428 (1989). BACK

(80) 136 CONG. REC. H8642 (daily ed. Oct. 2, 1990) (statement of Rep. Slaughter) (describing Haitian woman married to American man who regularly beat her and "subjected [her] to unspeakable cruelties"). BACK

(81) Telephone Interview with Sandra Sobieraj, Legislative Assistant to The Honorable Louise M. Slaughter, Member of Congress (April 3, 1992) [hereinafter Sobieraj Interview]. There was little lobbying on either side in committee. Id. BACK

(82) Pub. L. No. 99-639, 100 Stat. 3537. BACK

(83) Pub. L. No. 101-649, 104 Stat. 4978. Section 701 of the Immigration Act of 1990 amends § 216(c)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1186a(c)(4) (1988). BACK

(84) 8 U.S.C. § 1186a(c)(4)(C) (Supp. 11 1990). The House Judiciary Committee Report states, "The Committee notes that discretion given to the Attorney General to decide to deny waiver requests under this provision is to be limited to rare and exceptional circumstances such as when an alien poses a clear and significant detriment to the national interest." HOUSE JUDICIARY Comm., Family Unity and Employment Opportunity Immigration Act of 1990, No. 723, 101st Cong., 2d Sess., pt. 1, at 79 (1990). BACK

(85) 8 U.S.C. § 1186a(c)(4)(B) (1990 Supp. II). BACK

(86) Howe, supra note 58. BACK

(87) Conditional Basis of Lawful Permanent Residence for Certain Alien Spouses and Sons and Daughters; Battered and Abused Conditional Residents, 56 Fed. Reg. 22,635 (1991). The "interim" rule implemented § 701 of the Immigration Act of 1990. Id. The INS requested written comments by June 17, 1991. No sunset provision was written into the rule. For a discussion of the written response, see infra text accompanying notes 96-100. The "interim" rule was codified at 8 C.F.R. § 216.5 (1992). The INS has not indicated that it is planning to promulgate new rules to replace the "interim" rules--which have been fully promulgated. "Immediate implementation of this interim rule is necessary because the changes have been mandated by the passage of Pub. L. 101-649 . Early implementation will allow qualified conditional residents to immediately apply for waivers . . . Conditional Basis of Lawful Permanent Residence for Certain Alien Spouses and Sons and Daughters, 56 Fed. Reg. 22,635, 22,637 (1991). BACK

(88) Conditional Basis of Lawful Permanent Residence Status for Certain Alien Spouses and Sons and Daughters, 8 C.F.R. § 216 (1992). The Attorney General, and, by delegation, the Commissioner of the INS, have the power to "establish such regulations ... as [the Attorney General] deems necessary for carrying out his authority under the provisions of" Chapter 12, "Immigration and Nationality," of Title 8. 8 U.S.C. § 1103 (1988). This authority includes "the administration and enforcement" of the Chapter. Id. BACK

(89) 8 C.F.R. § 216.5(e)(3)(i) (1992) (indicating that waiver covers "being the victim of any act or threatened act of violence, including any forceful detention, which results or threatens to result in physical or mental injury. Psychological or sexual abuse or exploitation, including rape, molestation, incest . . . or forced prostitution shall be considered acts of violence."). BACK

(90) 8 C.F.R. § 216.5(e)(3)(iii) (1992). BACK

(91) Id. BACK

(92) 8 C.F.R. § 216.5(e)(3)(iv) (1992). BACK

(93) Id. The regulations require that "[t]he evaluation must contain the professional's full name, professional address, and license number. It must also identify the licensing, certifying, or registering authority." 8 C.F.R. § 2163(e)(3)(v) (1992). BACK

(94) 8 C.F.R. § 216.5(e)(3)(vii) (1992). BACK

(95) 8 C.F.R. § 216.5(e)(3)(vi) (1992). After the immigrant has already paid for the first -professional evaluation (assuming she can), it is not clear who would pay for these additional evaluations. BACK

(96) Telephone Interview with Rita Boie, Senior Immigration Examiner, INS (Mar. 9, 1992). Many were joint letters (e.g., the Asian Women's Shelter in San Francisco and the Asian Law Caucus together filed a letter to. the INS). Telephone Interview with Beckie Masaki, Executive Director, Asian Women's Shelter of San Francisco, Calif. (Mar. 9, 1992) [hereinafter Masaki Interview]. The Network for the Rights of Immigrant Women, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, and the National Battered Women's Law Project also wrote a joint letter to the INS. Letter from Network for the Rights of Immigrant Women .et al. to Patricia Cole, Assistant General Counsel, INS (April 24, 1991) (on file with author). BACK

(97) Conditional Basis of Lawful Permanent Residence for Certain Alien Spouses and Sons and Daughters; Battered and Abused Conditional Residents, 56 Fed. Reg. 22,635 (1991). BACK

(98) Boie, supra note 96. BACK

(99) Id. BACK

(100) Id. BACK

(101) Lee Interview, supra note 9. The Family Violence Prevention Fund raised this issue with Representative Louise Slaughter, but she felt that the political climate was not sympathetic to these concerns. Id; see also HOGELAND & ROSEN, supra note 4, at 15; Orloff, supra note 15, at 6. BACK

(102) Masaki Interview, supra note 96. Chris Hogeland, Immigrant Women in United States History in DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, supra note 4, at V-19. BACK

(103) Ignatius Bau et al., Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments of 1986 (Marriage Fraud Act) and Other Related Issues, in DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, supra note 4, at VII-3; HOGELAND & ROSEN, supra note 4, at 16. BACK

(104) To justify the regulations' professional evaluation requirement, INS officials reported that they "consulted" with Dan Byrne, Deputy Director of the House of Ruth, a battered women's shelter in Washington, D.C., who "indicated that most social 'help' agencies have a clinical social worker on staff." Based on this information, the INS stated that "we believe the conditional resident spouse or parent, friends, relatives, and others acting in their behalf, will have access to one or another of these professionals to obtain the evaluation required for substantiating a claim of mental or emotional abuse." Letter from Bonnie Derwinski, Director of Congressional and Public Affairs, INS, to The Honorable Louise Slaughter, Member of Congress, 2-3 (Apr. 29, 1991) (on file with author) [hereinafter April Derwinski Letter]. Dan Byrne denies that most social help agencies have licensed professionals on staff. Telephone Interview with Dan Byrne, Deputy Director, House of Ruth (April 6, 1992) [hereinafter Byrne Interview] ("We are particularly lucky, here at the House of Ruth, to have licensed clinical social workers on staff."). Moreover, Byrne notes, "The point I was trying to make to the INS is that immigrant women accessing, a shelter 'present' a lot better than they are. They may appear to be fine, while in reality they may not be functioning well, and a trained professional can elicit the kind of information that would form an assessment of a woman's true mental health." The fact that women generally tend to hide their mental abuse, however, is not a reason for requiring professional testimony; it is a reason to grant waivers to those who do evince mental abuse. See also Debbie Lee, Identifying Battered Women, in DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, supra note 4, at 11-8. Far from being satisfied with the present resources available to immigrant women, Mr. Byrne, like others who work for battered immigrant women, emphasizes the need for training of counselors and other staff at social service agencies to make them more culturally competent. Byrne Interview, supra. See also HOGELAND & ROSEN, supra note 4, at 23; Orloff, supra note 15, at 10 (discussing need for bilingual and bicultural staff in social service agencies). BACK

(105) Lin, supra note 9 (quoting Martha F. Davis, staff attorney, NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, as asserting, "Women may not leave abusive relationships because of this high burden of proof. . . .The result is that abused immigrant women are in the same position as they were in before."); Letter from Estelle Chun, Deputy Director, Asian Pacific American Legal Center, to Richard Sloan, Director of Policy Directives and Instructions Branch, INS 1, 3 (June 13, 1991) (on file with author) [hereinafter Chun Letter]. The INS has responded to the concerns about community barriers and burdens of proof by stating, "There has to be some standard. The INS is made up of people who are schooled in immigration law. We have no doctors or psychologists. We can't make a determination of mental abuse." April Derwinski Letter, supra note 104, at 2. See also id. ("The Service does not believe it would be possible to provide Service employees with training which would allow their judgment to be substituted for that of professionals with years of academic and practical experience in communicating with and evaluating the emotional condition of victims of mental cruelty."'). BACK

(106) See Ignatius Bau et al., Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments of 1986 (Marriage Fraud Act) and Other Related Issues, in DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, supra note 4, at VII-4; Chun Interview, supra note 12 ("When I saw the rule about extreme mental cruelty, I had to laugh."). There may be problems with the standard of proof for battery, as well. Unlike most people born in this country, many immigrant women do not use police, doctors, or shelters. Banales, supra note 4 (quoting expert asserting that "[s]ome aspects of the services, available are not always acceptable for Third World people"); Lin, supra note 9, at 21 ("Pat Eng, managing director of the New York Asian Women's Shelter, says that while the INS may consider police complaints, doctors reports and health records as proof, 'a lot of immigrant women may not use these facilities.' "). Many immigrant women seek support elsewhere, such as from friends, family, neighbors, or clergy. If a woman does not go to a doctor or cannot afford one, she will not have a medical report to help prove the injuries she suffered at the hands of her batterer. See Orloff, supra note 15, at 6-7 (reporting statistics on immigrant women's poverty). If a woman does not call the police when she is assaulted, or police do not respond, she will not. have, police records to -help prove that she was battered. Id. at 6 (citing study in which "[o]nly six of 304 [battered immigrant] women reported ever calling the police.").BACK

(107) Chun Letter, supra note 105, at 3 ("[T]here are only 8 licensed clinical psychiatrists, 7 licensed clinical psychologists and 23 licensed clinical social workers who target the Asian and Pacific Islander community. The language capabilities of most of these Professionals are limited to the five major Asian Pacific groups .... There are few, if any, licensed bilingual workers for a dozen or more smaller Asian Pacific subgroups (e.g., Cambodian, Samoan and Thai)."). See also HOGELAND & ROSEN, supra note 4, at 19 (31 % of Latinas reported that lack of bilingual services was central barrier to their utilizing social services). BACK

(108) "From my ten years of experience doing family law at Greater Boston Legal Services I know of not one battered woman who could have afforded to pay for even one interview with a clinical social worker, let alone a psychiatrist or psychologist. I probably represented over one thousand battered women, and I supervised a number of lawyers, students and paralegals whose experience was similar." Letter from Joan Zorza, Senior Attorney, National Battered Women's Law Project, to Gene McNary, Commissioner, INS 2 (May 13, 1991) (on file with author). BACK

(109) The standards for obtaining temporary restraining orders against batterers are much easier for women to meet. See Letter from The Honorable Louise M. Slaughter, Member of Congress, to Gene McNary, Commissioner, INS 2 (Apr. 3, 1991) (on file with the author); Chun Letter, supra note 105. A simple, credible affidavit is often enough to obtain a temporary restraining order against an abuser.
     Additionally, the INS accepts credible, personal statements as evidence in other immigration adjudications. For instance, foreign nationals who have a "well-founded fear of persecution" in their native lands submit personal affidavits to apply for political asylum in this country. 8 C.F.R. § 208.16; Bolanos-Hernandez v. INS, 767 F.2d 1277, 1285 (9th Cir. 1984); Matter of Villalta, Int. Dec. 3126 (BIA 1990.). The situation for battered women is analogous. Battered women are fleeing oppressive situations in which they fear for their physical and mental safety, and perhaps their lives. Like refugees, they often lack the resources to substantiate their claims with professional testimony.
     The INS has responded that expert evaluations are "routinely required with many applications." Letter from Bonnie Derwinski, Director of Public and Congressional Affairs, INS, to The Honorable Louise Slaughter, Member of Congress 3 (June 3, 1991) (on file with author) [hereinafter June Derwinski Letter]. Ms. Derwinski cites numerous examples, none of which are analogous to the situation of battered conditional residents. "Medical evaluations may be required for applicants for adjustment of status," but they may be obtained with the help of Medicaid through low cost health clinics. "A petition for an orphan adopted abroad requires a valid home study" by a licensed adoption agency, but these parents have enough money to adopt a child in the first place. "[C]ertifications and evaluations may be required for some applications based on occupational status or training," but those are certifications of one's own educational or occupational achievement for the purpose of immigrating under special visa permits. Id. at 3. None of these situations is analogous to abused conditional residents who often do not have the ability to make their case without financial support. BACK

(110) The House Judiciary Committee Report states that the purpose of the battered-spouse law is "to ensure that when the U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or parent engages in battering or cruelty against a spouse or child, neither the spouse nor child should be entrapped in the abusive relationship by the threat of losing their legal resident status." HOUSE JUDICIARY COMM., supra note 84, at 78 (emphasis added); see also Sobieraj Interview, supra note 81 ("The word 'mental' is not in the statute., There's no reason why it should be in the regulations"). The INS may have reinserted the word "mental" as a way to legitimate the requirement for professional evaluations. See, e.g., June Derwinski Letter, supra note 109, at 2 ("[S]eparate evidentiary requirements for applications based upon extreme mental cruelty.... [were] found to be necessary because of the subjective nature of emotional abuse and the difficulties inherent in evaluating other than the most severe manifestations of this type of abuse."). Only the most severe forms of emotional abuse, however, warrant evaluation under the statute. BACK

(111) Interview with The Honorable Bruce Morrison, Former Member of Congress, in New Haven, Conn. (Mar. 10, 1992). BACK

(112) Id. BACK

(113) June Derwinski Letter, supra note 109, at 2. The statute, however, does not cover unfair treatment, but only behavior that amounts to extreme cruelty. BACK

(114) BACK

114. Sobieraj Interview, supra note 81. Letter from The Honorable Louise M. Slaughter, Member of Congress, to John Schroeder, Asst. Commissioner for Adjudication and Naturalization; INS 2 (Mar. 15, 1991) (on file with author) [hereinafter Slaughter-Schroeder Letter].

(115) Nilda Rimonte, Domestic Violence Among Pacific Asians, in MAKING WAVES: AN ANTHOLOGY OF WRITING BY AND ABOUT ASIAN AMERICAN WOMEN 327, 332-33 (Asian Women United of California ed., 1989) ("[G]iven her background and limited resources, the [immigrant] woman who chooses to leave an abusive situation, however temporarily, has taken extraordinary action.... For a woman raised in a conformist and other-directed culture, this choice requires immense courage."); Debbie Lee, Identifying Immigrant Battered Women, in DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, supra note 4, at III-3; Telephone Interview with Linda Ikeda-Vogel, Executive Director, Center for the, Pacific Asian Family of Los Angeles, Cal. (Mar. 10, 1992) ("Women come to shelters when they are very desperate, and many still return to their abusers because they believe it is the only way to retain their legal status") [hereinafter Ikeda-Vogel Interview]; Lee Interview, supra note 9 (women attempting to obtain TRO's either have strong support behind them, or are "really, really desperate"); Orloff, supra note 15, at 6 ("[W]hen battered immigrant women do seek help, it is usually only after their problems have reached crisis proportions."). BACK

(116) Letter from The Honorable Louise M. Slaughter, Member of Congress, to The Honorable Romano Mazzoli, Chair of the House Subcomm. on International Law, Immigration and Refugees 1 (Oct. 17, 1991) (on file with author). See also Letter from The Honorable Louise M. Slaughter, Member of Congress, to Richard Sloan, Director, Policy Directives and Instructions Branch, INS 2 (June 7, 1991) (on file 'With author). BACK

(117) Ikeda-Vogel Interview, supra note 115. BACK

(118) Rimonte, supra note 115, at 330. BACK

(119) Hodgin, supra note 4 (citing Tina Shum, counselor at social service agency that has served San Francisco for 127 years, describing what she calls "cultural complications" with the law). BACK

(120) Frosch & Madrigal, supra note 4, at 1-3. BACK

(121) Rimonte, supra note 115, at 328 (explaining that patriarchal familial relations and dominance of family over individual are social phenomena associated with domestic violence). BACK


(123) Deeana Jang et al., Responding to Domestic Violence, in DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, supra note 4, at VIII-7 n.20 (undocumented women not precluded from obtaining TRO's or protective orders). BACK

(124) The same resistance may operate in nonimmigrant populations, as well. BACK

(125) Hodgin, supra note 4 ("'This is impossible for some women, because a TRO means you have to go to court and confront the husband, 'face-to-face,' counselor Shum explains. 'Some would rather live with the beatings.' "); Lin, supra note 9. The same may be said of many nonimmigrant communities. This is not simply a cultural distaste for confrontation, but is based on a woman's concern for her safety. The resistance to confrontation may also break down along class lines. BACK

(126) Lee Interview, supra note 9. BACK

(127) HOGELAND & ROSEN, supra note 4, at 17. Simply because an immigrant fears deportation does not mean that she has been duplicitous in her acquisition of conditional status or that she entered her marriage fraudulently. A fear of deportation does not imply anything about her rationale for coming to this country--only that she would rather not return to her native land for any number of reasons. In their native lands, women may face unemployment, extreme poverty, or political repression. If family and community ties are established in this country, deportation means separation from close ones, with perhaps no means of support. These problems may be particularly acute for battered immigrant women. Women may be deported without their children, forcing mothers to leave the children with their abusive spouses. Battered women may also face social ostracism if forced to return to their native lands. Traditional families and communities may reject divorced women or women who have left their husbands. Hodgin, supra note 4. As outcasts, they may be literally unable to rejoin their former societies. Id. Alice Fernandez, Director of the Victim Services Agency in the Bronx, asserts that certain immigrant women are thus "held hostage" by their husbands: "The message is: if you tell anybody what I'm doing to you, they are going to ship your ass back home. And for these women, there is nothing more terrible than that . . . . Sometimes their response is: I would rather be dead in this country than go back home." Walt, supra note 1. BACK

(128) Hodgin, supra note 4. A few communities have affirmative "city of refuge" policies whereby local police have no obligation to notify INS about undocumented aliens. Lee Interview, supra note 9. But "there are still risks in contacting the police because police will usually call the INS if the perpetrator is undocumented." Id. Cf. Gonzales v. City of Peoria, 722 F.2d,468, 474-77 (9th Cir. 1983) (holding that police have authority to arrest for violations of Immigration and Nationality Act "where there is probable cause to believe that the arrestee has illegally entered the United States."). BACK

(129) LPR's can be deported if convicted of two crimes of moral turpitude. It is not clear whether spousal abuse constitutes a crime involving moral turpitude. See, e.g., Garcia-Lopez v. INS, 923 F.2d 72, 75 n.2 (7th Cir. 1991) (weighing foreign national's threats to his wife as factors disfavoring voluntary departure); Crouch v. INS, No. All-969-628, 1991 U.S. App. LEXIS 10768 (9th Cir. May 13, 1991) (finding no abuse of BIA discretion in denial of waiver of deportation to foreign national convicted of rape and charged with assault against his wife); Matter of Lemhammad, No. A-27935756, Interim Decision 3151, 1991 B.I.A. LEXIS 13 (holding that criminal conviction for domestic assault provides justification for denial of voluntary departure); In the Matter of P---, 3 1. & N. Dec. 31, at 6-7 (B.I.A. 1947) (finding that simple assault is generally not held to involve moral turpitude; assault with intent to do bodily harm constitutes a crime involving moral turpitude); In the Matter of G--- R---, 2 1. & N. Dec. 733 (B.I.A. 1946) (finding assault with a deadly weapon a crime involving moral turpitude). BACK

(130) Courts have found that a citizen child's constitutional rights are not violated when a child's parent is deported, even if the child must be deported as well. Acosta v. Gaffney, 558 F.2d 1153, 1151 (3rd Cir. 1977); Perdido v. INS, 420 F.2d 1179, 1181 (5th Cir. 1969). BACK

(131) Ikeda-Vogel Interview, supra note 115; see also Lee, Identifying Immigrant Battered Women, in DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, supra note 4, at 11-7. BACK

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