Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Illegal immigrant seeks to avoid deportation as abuse victim (The Courier-Journal)

Illegal immigrant seeks to avoid deportation as abuse victim
6:01 PM, May. 26, 201
Written by Peter Smith

A Kentucky woman who faces deportation to her native Mexico is seeking asylum, saying she fears domestic violence from her ex-partner and that Mexican authorities can’t be counted on to protect her.

Ana Lilia Alanis-Paulin entered the U.S. illegally in 1997 at age 17. She is in an Illinois jail after being arrested May 5 in Lexington, where she lives, for driving without a license. She was turned over to federal immigration authorities.

A legal brief filed on her behalf alleges the father of her youngest child has threatened to harm her if she returns to Mexico, where he now lives. Alanis-Paulin had called Lexington police three times to report abuse allegations in 2008 and 2009 when he lived there.

The 30-year-old mother of three, who previously lived in Louisville, "is terrified of being abused and likely killed if she is forced to return to Mexico where her abuser remains," said the motion filed on her behalf with the Office of the Immigration Judge in Memphis, Tenn. Earlier this month, the office put a temporary stay on her deportation while it considers her petition to reopen her case so she could seek legal status. She is currently in the McHenry County, Ill., Jail, her lawyer said.

The motion contends that Alanis-Paulin deserves protection as a member of a persecuted social group — Mexican women threatened by domestic abuse in a male-dominated society where laws against such violence are weak and largely unenforced.

Her lawyer, Eleni Wolfe-Roubatis of the National Immigrant Justice Center in Chicago, cites a federal law allowing a special class of visas for crime victims who have cooperated with law enforcement. By filing reports with Lexington police, her client met that qualification, Wolfe-Roubatis said.

People in her predicament are "exactly why this law was made," the attorney said.

Leticia Zamarripa, public affairs officer for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said she couldn't comment on any case without a signed waiver from the detainee, which could not be obtained as of Thursday.

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