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Violence Against Latina Immigrants

Violence Against Latina Immigrants: Citizenship, Inequality, and Community

Roberta Villalón
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 226
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  • Book Info
    Violence Against Latina Immigrants
    Book Description:

    Caught between violent partners and the bureaucratic complications of the US Immigration system, many immigrant women are particularly vulnerable to abuse. For two years, Roberta Villalon volunteered at a nonprofit group that offers free legal services to mostly undocumented immigrants who had been victims of abuse. Her innovative study of Latina survivors of domestic violence explores the complexities at the intersection of immigration, citizenship, and violence, and shows how inequality is perpetuated even through the well-intentioned delivery of vital services. Through archival research, participant observation, and personal interviews, Violence Against Latina Immigrants provides insight into the many obstacles faced by battered immigrant women of color, bringing their stories and voices to the fore. Ultimately, Villalon proposes an active policy advocacy agenda and suggests possible changes to gender violence-based immigration laws, revealing the complexities of the lives of Latina immigrants as they confront issues of citizenship, gender violence, and social inequalities.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-8842-4
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. 1 Introduction: Theoretical and Methodological Approach
    (pp. 1-16)

    Angela, Claudia, Julia, Luisa, Laura, Martha, Rosa, Manuela, Ana, Susana, Clara, Silvana, Rosario, Mónica, Samuel, Yolanda, Patricia, Ramona, and Leticia were all immigrants. With or without immigration documents, they had all left their native lands to help their families survive. In love, and in pain, they had all endured intimate partner violence in the United States. Courageously and fearfully, they had all tried to break free from their abusive relationships and sought help. Some found their way out. Others did not. In this book, I explore the disparate fates of Latina battered immigrants in their search for nonviolence, autonomy, and...

  5. 2 Violence against Latina Immigrants and Immigration Law
    (pp. 17-40)

    While it is true that anyone can become a victim or a perpetrator of intimate partner violence, gender, sexual identity, race, ethnicity, class, and immigration status influence the way in which violence is inflicted and endured, as well as the resources available to escape and overcome the abusive relationship. The case of Angela poignantly shows the complexities of violence against Latina immigrants, revealing the rationale beneath the legal provisions and community services for battered immigrants through the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (VTVPA).

    Sitting down on the edge of the chair...

  6. 3 Formal Barriers to Citizenship
    (pp. 41-78)

    The all-inclusive spirit of the Violence Against Women Act and the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act is tainted by gender, sexual, racial, ethnic, and class discriminatory parameters that end up excluding many battered immigrants, regardless of their history of abuse. The cases of Claudia, Julia, Luisa, Laura, Martha,¹ Rosa, Manuela, Ana, and Susana, in contrast to Angela’s, illustrate how VAWA and VTVPA work within long-standing formal legal structures that prioritize men over women, married over nonmarried, heterosexual over nonheterosexual, American over foreign, and working, middle, or upper class over poor. This chapter uncovers the intricacies beneath the selection...

  7. 4 Informal Barriers to Citizenship
    (pp. 79-120)

    Having uncovered the parameters that the state employs to determine whether a battered immigrant is worthy or unworthy to become a citizen of the United States, I now look into how attorneys, legal assistants, and other immigrants’ advocates act as mediators between the state and the immigrants. Do they conform to or contest immigration regulations and citizenship ideals and disciplines? Do they alter or reproduce the stratified structure of American society in their daily practice? In this chapter, I will focus first on the history and institutional development of the Organization for Refugees of America/Organización para Refugiados de América, the...

  8. 5 Resisting Inequality
    (pp. 121-162)

    How did battered immigrants and ORA staff negotiate intersecting gender, sexual, racial, ethnic, and class structural forces? How can the paradoxes of the system and the pervasiveness of inequality be resisted and overcome? As opposed to the previous two chapters, which focused on the power of immigration laws over nonprofit organizations and their workers over immigrants’ actions, this chapter focuses on the capacity of battered women and advocates to cope with, legitimize, or defy these constraints. While battered immigrants seemed to be at the mercy of gatekeepers, and ORA staff seemed to be co-opted, they still had a say in...

  9. 6 Conclusion
    (pp. 163-172)

    The Violence Against Women Act and the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act represent major achievements in the struggle to end violence against immigrant women as long as these laws acknowledge intimate partner violence as a social problem and provide a diverse array of support to survivors according to their particular vulnerabilities. However, by looking into the experiences of Latina battered immigrants in their search for nonviolence, autonomy, and citizenship at a nonprofit organization in Texas that provided legal services free of charge for poor immigrants, I found that not all survivors have been protected in the same way....

  10. Notes
    (pp. 173-192)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 193-202)
  12. Index
    (pp. 203-206)
  13. About the Author
    (pp. 207-207)