Catholic Charities of NH has received $60,000 in federal funds to help immigrant victims of crimes perpetrated by U.S. citizens and permanent residents.
Cathy Chesley of Catholic Charities said most of the organizations eligible clients are survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, although victimes of other crimes are also eligible.
“Let’s say someone’s enticed here, like a mail-order bride,” Chesley said, “so they’ve got a fiancé visa. But it turns out the person is a batterer, which is often the case. The batterers, the abusers would often use the lack of status to say ‘I’m going to hold on to your papers so you can’t go anywhere,’ as a matter of silencing the victim.”
Staff from Catholic Charities can then step in. They help the victim get a green card and work authorization independent of the abusive family member and sponsor. In exchange, the victims must assist law enforcement in prosecuting the abuser.
Chesley said Catholic Charities has four legal advocates who handle about 100 such cases at any given moment. The New Hampshire Department of Justice distributed the federal grant money, which partially funds the staff positions.