Laura Luis Hernandez fled Mexico to escape an abusive husband. She later returned but the violence continued, the Seattle Times reports. She left Mexico a second time, living in Seattle for years without legal immigration status.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled this week that women like Hernandez cannot be deported under the federal Violence Against Women act. “We conclude that an abuser’s behavior during the ‘contrite’ phase of domestic violence may, and in circumstances such as those present here does, constitute ‘extreme cruelty,’ ” wrote Jude Richard Paez.
The federal law allows illegal immigrants who have been battered by a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident to stay in the country by adjusting their immigration status. Hernandez’s husband is a legal permanent U.S. resident who lives in Mexico.
Immigrant advocates hailed the decision, the Times says. “There’s the physical battery and the contrition, the apologies, the promises never to do it again. It’s all part of the cycle,” said Stephen Knight of the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies at Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco.
Hernandez, 43, is now working in Seattle with other women who have suffered domestic violence.