Domestic Violence and Immigration

Any arrest for a crime of domestic violence (referred to in the Texas Family Code as family violence) creates a number of legal concerns for family or household members, but the possible consequences can be much more dramatic when alleged offender—or even an alleged victim—is an immigrant. In some cases, a domestic violence arrest can lead to an immigrant being deported.

Lawful Permanent Residents are concerned with avoiding grounds of deportability while undocumented immigrants are more concerned with avoiding grounds of inadmissibility. In virtually every case involving immigrants, alleged offenders want to preserve their eligibility for discretionary relief.

Lawyer in Brownsville, TX Discusses Domestic Violence and Immigration

If you are concerned about how a recent domestic violence arrest in South Texas might impact you or a loved one's immigration status, it is in your best interest to immediately retain legal counsel. The Gracia Law Firm aggressively defends clients accused of domestic violence offenses in communities all over Willacy County, Cameron County, and Hidalgo County.

Jonathan Gracia is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Brownsville who can fight to help you achieve the most favorable resolution to your case that results in the fewest possible penalties. You can have our lawyer provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case when you call (956) 504-2211 to receive a free, confidential consultation.


Overview of Domestic Violence and Immigration in Cameron County


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Deportable Domestic Violence Offenses in Texas

Section 237 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) covers general classes of deportable aliens. INA § 237(a)(2)(E)(i) states, "Any alien who at any time after admission is convicted of a crime of domestic violence, a crime of stalking, or a crime of child abuse, child neglect, or child abandonment is deportable."

For purposes of this clause, the phrase "crime of domestic violence" is defined as any crime of violence against a person committed by a current or former spouse of the person, by an individual with whom the person shares a child in common, by an individual who is cohabiting with or has cohabited with the person as a spouse, by an individual similarly situated to a spouse of the person under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction where the offense occurs, or by any other individual against a person who is protected from that individual's acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the United States or any State, Indian tribal government, or unit of local government.

A “crime of violence” under Title 18 U.S.C. § 16 as "an offense that has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another, or any other offense that is a felony and that, by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used in the course of committing the offense"

INA § 237(a)(2)(E)(ii) further states that any alien who violates a protection order that involves protection against credible threats of violence, repeated harassment, or bodily injury to the person or persons for whom the protection order was issued is deportable.


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Immigration Concerns for Victims of Domestic Violence in Brownsville

On February 9, 2017, an undocumented, transgender woman was sought a protective order against an alleged abuser in an El Paso courthouse. Moments after a judge approved her protective order, the woman was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials.

The El Paso arrest garnered national attention and raised concerns about victims of domestic violence not reporting alleged incidents out of fear of possible deportation. It is important for immigrants who are victims of domestic violence to understand that safe harbor provisions exist to help victims avoid deportation.

The U nonimmigrant status (U visa) is set aside for victims of certain crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse and are helpful to law enforcement or government officials in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity.

Additionally, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) amended Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act § 384 to prevent the Department of Homeland Security, the Attorney General, and the Department of State from making adverse determinations of admissibility or deportability of under the INA using information furnished solely by:

  • a spouse or parent who has battered the alien or subjected the alien to extreme cruelty;
  • a member of the spouse's or parent's family residing in the same household as the alien who has battered the alien or subjected the alien to extreme cruelty when the spouse or parent consented to or acquiesced in such battery or cruelty;
  • a spouse or parent who has battered the alien's child or subjected the alien's child to extreme cruelty (without the active participation of the alien in the battery or extreme cruelty); or
  • a member of the spouse's or parent's family residing in the same household as the alien who has battered the alien's child or subjected the alien's child to extreme cruelty when the spouse or parent consented to or acquiesced in such battery or cruelty and the alien did not actively participate in such battery or cruelty, unless the alien has been convicted of a crime or crimes listed in Ina § 241(a)(2).

The section also prohibits making adverse determinations of admissibility or deportability of under the INA using information furnished solely by permit use by or disclosure to anyone (other than a sworn officer or employee of the Department, or bureau or agency thereof, for legitimate Department, bureau, or agency purposes) of any information which relates to an alien who is the beneficiary of an application for relief under clause (iii) or (iv) of section 204(a)(1)(A), clause (ii) or (iii) of section 204(a)(1)(B), section 216(c)(4)(C), or section 244(a)(3) of such Act as an alien (or the parent of a child) who has been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty.


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Domestic Violence and Immigration Resources in Cameron County

Family Violence Program (FVP) | Texas Health and Human Services (HHS) — The FVP provides family violence services to victims and their children. On this website, you can learn more about the types of services offered. You can also learn more about the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) and Family Violence Centers.

Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV) — TCFV is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization with an integrated funding base of federal, state, private and public support. TCFV’s three major focus areas are support to service providers, public policy, and prevention. Use this website to access publications, learn about community engagement efforts, and find facts and statistics.

Texas Family Violence Program Statewide Report - 2016 | Texas Health and Human Services (HHS) — On this section of the HHS website, you can download the 2016 Texas Family Violence Program Statewide Report. The Family Violence Program (FVP) is required by Texas Human Resources Code §51.006 to publish a report each even-numbered year that summarizes data received from family violence centers under contract with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). In addition to family violence program expenditure information, the report also covers contract effectiveness, survivor accomplishments, and contractor accomplishments.


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The Gracia Law Firm | Brownsville Domestic Violence and Immigration Defense Attorney

Are you or your loved one an immigrant who is concerned about possible deportability because of a recent domestic violence arrest? Do not say anything to authorities until you have contacted The Gracia Law Firm.

Brownsville criminal defense lawyer Jonathan Gracia represents individuals throughout Hidalgo County, Willacy County, and Cameron County.

Call (956) 504-2211 or complete an online contact form to have our attorney review your case and answer all of your legal questions during a free initial consultation.



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