Migrant Women Project

Migrant Women Project

Prevention and Protection Partnership:
Empowerment Through Rights Education

“At times I hear running, I hear the victim running away (from an abusive situation) and I stay on the phone until police arrive.”
Victim advocate in Salt Lake City, Utah

Violence against women exists in every nation. Global statistics show that one in every three women has been abused in her lifetime.1 Appropriately, violence against women has garnered the attention of the international, domestic, and local communities around the United States. More must be done to address violence against women, particularly those women who are most vulnerable to violence by virtue of barriers to access to socio-legal services. Based on original qualitative research directed by Professor Erika George of the S.J. Quinney College of Law, the Prevention and Protection Partnerships: Empowerment through Rights Education, discussion paper examines the problems faced by migrant woman in the United States with specific reference to Utah and the Wasatch Front region. Our paper also offers recommendations to address gender-based violence on multiple levels based on research conducted with stakeholders in the Wasatch Front region.

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“Victims travel extremely long distances to receive similar services at the Family Justice Center that they could receive at the police station right across the street. Fear of law enforcement is a common sentiment among migrant population.”
– Sentiment expressed by victim advocate in Salt Lake City, Utah


The S.J. Quinney College of Law Center for Global Justice Prevention and Protection Partnerships: Empowerment through Rights Education makes the following recommendations to protect migrant women from domestic violence and sexual assault in the United States. These recommendations are directed to the United States government, Utah State government, and local agencies that implement national and local policies relating to migrant women and domestic violence prevention. Implementing bodies must make it clear that all individuals deserve to have their basic human rights respected, including the freedom to be free from or escape gender-based violence situations.

To the United States Federal Government

  • Ratify the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women to signify the United States’ commitment to internationally recognized human rights and rights of women.
  • Increase the current U-Visa cap from 10,000 per fiscal year to 15,000 per fiscal year.

To the Utah State Government

  • Encourage continued reporting of gender-based violence and aggressive prosecution of those cases in which the victim advances a willingness to prosecute.
  • Train law enforcement on the U-Visa process as a whole, emphasizing that law enforcement’s initial U-Visa certification does not grant the petitioner legal status but is one step in the certification process⎯U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services makes the final U-Visa determination.
  • Implement a statewide media campaign publically condemning gender-based violence.
  • Train prosecutors to avoid withholding U-Visa certifications until a victim’s case is fully adjudicated. Congress intended victims to be able to fully access U-Visa relief at the time they choose to leave their aggressor.

To State Prosecutors

  • File motions in limine to suppress evidence of a victim’s use of the U-Visa, as needed.

To Law Enforcement

  • Train law enforcement personnel to provide constructive direction in situations of domestic violence interventions in the home.
  • Implement a uniform U-Visa certification process as structured by a specified police victims advocate.
  • Adopt a victim-centered approach to interact with victims of trauma.
  • Encourage law enforcement to train other law enforcement on issues of domestic violence.
  • Ensure all law enforcement understand the U-Visa process as a whole, reinforcing that the officer does not need to decide if a victim is defrauding the immigration system⎯USCIS mandates a specific unit to target fraud prevention.
  • Train personnel on the T-Visa and how to identify trafficking victims in the community. Do individuals have access to their identification documents? Who do they live with? How many people do they live with? Develop focused questions to help determine where trafficking occurs in the community.
  • Actively engage existing community service providers that specialize in victim assistance provision. Local Community Service Providers
  • Encourage an employee to become Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) accredited (forty-hour intensive training course) to expedite the U-Visa certification at your agency.
  • Actively engage law enforcement in cross-training efforts to more thoroughly understand the role of the victim.
  • Encourage a public education campaign to increase awareness of domestic violence services available to victims in the community. Advance multilingual public service statements on the radio, thereby spreading the word about available victim services as well as clarifying victims will not face deportation if they choose to access services.

“After a domestic violence incident has occurred, it is incredibly important to assist the survivor in feeling safe and empowered to disclose. When working with undocumented victims, more often than not, the victim may be ill equipped to maneuver through the criminal justice system and we must strive to ensure that someone that the survivor identifies with provides services in their native language.”
– West Valley Police Department, Detective, Special Victims Unit


LEGAL (Protective Orders, Custody, Divorce, U-Visa, & General Immigration)

  • Utah Legal Services 801-328-8891 (Will assist undocumented population ONLY for protective orders and stalking injunctions but not with divorce or custody matters)
  • Legal Aid Society 801-578-1204 (Will assist undocumented population ONLY for protective orders and stalking injunctions but not with divorce or custody matters)
  • Holy Cross Ministries 801-261-3440 (U-Visa and General Immigration, NO criminal defense)


  • Rape Recovery Centers 801-467-7282
  • Family Justice Center 801-537-8600
  • Catholic Community Services 801-540-6492
  • Centro de la Familia 801-521-4473
  • Family Support Center (Midvale) 801-255-6881
  • Refugee and Immigrant Center 801-467-6060606v
  • International Rescue Committee 801-328-1091
  • Department of Workforce Services 801-526-9675


  • Utah Domestic Violence Coalition 801-521-5544
  • Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault 801-746-0404
  • Utah Office for Victims of Crime 801-238-2360
  • Salt Lake Valley Emergency Fund 801-284-4201
  • The Language 800-752-6096


This research was made possible by the generous support of the Castle Foundation