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TAHIRIH JUSTICE CENTER How did we start? Layli Miller Muro, Tahirih’s founder and former associate at Arnold & Porter, was involved as a student attorney.

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Presentation on theme: "TAHIRIH JUSTICE CENTER How did we start? Layli Miller Muro, Tahirih’s founder and former associate at Arnold & Porter, was involved as a student attorney."— Presentation transcript:

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2 TAHIRIH JUSTICE CENTER How did we start? Layli Miller Muro, Tahirih’s founder and former associate at Arnold & Porter, was involved as a student attorney in the landmark gender based asylum case of Fauziya Kassindja. Initial funding for Tahirih was provided by Ms. Miller through the proceeds of a book, Do They Hear You When You Cry?, about Ms. Kassindja’s case released in March What do we do? Pro Bono Legal Services Work on public policy initiatives effecting our clients Effect change through the litigation of precedent-setting cases Pioneer the utilization of new legal remedies under US law to protect immigrant women from violence Work with US and UN agencies to improve the processes for assisting refugees and asylum seekers Since 1997, Tahirih has assisted over 6,400 women and girls fleeing abuses such as female genital mutilation, rape, trafficking, honor crimes, gender apartheid, forced marriage, and domestic violence.

3 The Story of Tahirih “You can kill me as soon as you like, but you cannot stop the emancipation of women.” -Tahirih, 1848, renowned for her poetry, beauty, and ability to inspire women. TAH-heh-ray

4 Tahirih’s Programs Policy Public PolicyAdvocacy Services Holistic Legal Services Public Education Tahirih’s three-pronged approach to systemic policy change:

5 Direct Legal Services Gender-based Asylum Project Campaign to Stop Exploitation by “International Marriage Brokers” Battered Immigrant Women Project Protecting Victims of Trafficking

6 Holistic Approach to Services True access to justice means meeting our clients’ social and medical needs Tahirih Client Medical Needs Emergency Assistance Physicals Long Term Care Counseling Social Needs HousingEmploymentEducation Legal Services

7 Tahirih Today

8 Two Forms of Immigration Relief Continued Presence and T visa

9 Continued Presence In order to aid the prosecution of traffickers, eligible victims who lack legal status but who are potential witnesses of such trafficking may receive temporary immigration relief. Only a federal law enforcement agency may petition the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for continued presence. The DHS has the discretion to authorize the continued presence of victims of severe forms of trafficking.

10 T Visa Available to individuals who are physically present in the US as a result of a severe form of trafficking: Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age OR The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

11 Proof for a T Visa The applicant is a victim of a severe form of trafficking; The applicant is physically present in the US; The applicant has complied with any reasonable request for assistance in the investigation and prosecution of acts of trafficking in persons (as evidenced by an LEA declaration); and The applicant would suffer extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm upon removal. (Hardship does not need to be related to the trafficking but cannot simply be economic hardship.)

12 Facts about the T Visa Enables victims of human trafficking to live and work in U.S. for 4 years Can apply for adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident after 3 years Can petition to have spouses and children accompany (or parents if under 21) if can demonstrate extreme hardship if family member not given derivative status Eligible for federal public benefits assistance in the US Cap of 5,000 visas annually, many visas left Criminal Case does not determine eligibility

13 Assistance Available to Victims of Human Trafficking Adult Victims (age 18 or over) must be certified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) To receive certification, an individual must: Be a victim of human trafficking as defined by the TVPA; Be willing to assist with the investigation and prosecution of traffickers; and Have completed a bona fide application for a T visa; or Have received Continued Presence status from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to receive Federally-funded services and benefits to the same extent as refugees.

14 Assistance Available to Victims of Human Trafficking (cont.) Child victims of human trafficking (under age 18) are immediately eligible for benefits – they do not need to apply for a T visa or get Continued Presence status. For such victims, HHS issues – once it has received proof that the child is a victim of trafficking – a “letter of eligibility.” The victim or the victim’s advocate may then present the letter to social service providers as proof of eligibility.

15 Assistance Available to Victims of Human Trafficking (cont.) Certified and eligible victims of human trafficking can receive benefits and services necessary for the safety and protection of their lives including: Housing or shelter assistance English language training Food assistance Health care assistance Income assistance Mental health services Employment assistance Assistance for victims of torture.

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