‘I Was Afraid Of Him And Of Immigration’: Domestic Violence Survivors Take Chance Applying For Special Visa

Immigrants living in the country illegally have reason to be on edge.

An increase in immigration enforcement under President Trump has led to more arrests of immigrants with no criminal record. And reports of federal immigration agents showing up at schools and courts are heightening fear among people in the country without authorization.

But what happens when that fear is used as a weapon?

‘If I Called The Police, They’re Going To Deport Me’

Antonia, who lives north of Boston, is nervous about being deported back to the Dominican Republican. She traveled here on a tourist visa and stayed in the country longer than she was authorized.

But the mother of three has an even bigger fear: her ex-boyfriend.

“He hit me in the mouth, he yelled at me, he broke my phone. Until one day, I couldn’t take it anymore because he grabbed a knife and threatened me and my children,” she said, speaking in Spanish.

Antonia says her ex-boyfriend grabbed a knife from her kitchen and ran around checking under the beds for another man who didn’t exist. In his jealousy-fueled rage, Antonia says he waved the knife around threatening to kill her and her children. Her 8-year-old daughter hid behind the couch.

Because Antonia fears for her safety, we’re only using part of her first name.

She says when she first met her abuser through mutual friends, he was kind and helpful. As a naturalized U.S. citizen, he speaks English fluently. He drove her to English classes and helped her with her homework. But all of that changed.

“I didn’t want to be with him anymore and I separated from him and I tried distancing myself but he kept looking for me and calling me,” Antonia said. “And one day he called me and asked me to go to his house, and that’s when it started all over again and he started hitting me. He bit me on this hand. I told him, ‘This is not OK, you’re hurting me. I’m going to have to call the police.’ But I don’t know how to speak English, so I grabbed my children and left.”

By Shannon Dooling for WBUR NEWS
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