Immigrants who are facing removal proceedings could attempt to dodge deportation by invoking certain rights. One way for removal proceedings to be held in abeyance would be for a petitioner to invoke the Violence Against Women Act. Under the Violence Against Women Act, battered immigrants could petition for legal status without having to rely on their abusive U.S. spouse or relative to sponsor their Adjustment of Status applications. In spite of the label, the Violence Against Women Act is not exclusively limited to women. Men who have abusive spouses could also petition for legal resident status under the Violence Against Women Act.
One case involving a Nigerian citizen sees the Violence Against Women Act come into play during removal proceedings. Eugene Joseph entered the United States in 1991 and was placed under removal proceedings after he was convicted of theft in Illinois and committing bank fraud. During the proceedings, Joseph did admit to his undocumented status but sought to adjust it into a permanent legal resident status by stating that he was married to a U.S. citizen. During the legal proceedings, Joseph also asked for a waiver of inadmissibility in an attempt to address consequences that came as a result of his criminal activities. Joseph stated that deportation would cause his family to experience “extreme hardship.”
During the hearing, Joseph’s wife came forward and testified on his behalf. Joseph’s wife stated that his deportation would take a financial and emotional toll on their marriage as well as causing an undue amount of suffering to their asthmatic sons. The immigration judge that presided over Joseph’s case concluded that the suffering that would be brought about by his deportation would not be considered excessive when compared against the cases of children whose parents were to be deported from U.S. territory. The Board of Immigration appeals agreed with the immigration judge and upheld the decision.