Utah Domestic Violence Coalition Response Regarding Immigration Issues and Impact on Domestic Violence Victims

September 2010 The Utah Domestic Violence Coalition (UDVC) is recognized nationally as the state domestic violence coalition in Utah. The council’s mission is to create a state where domestic violence is intolerable. Domestic violence crosses all socioeconomic and cultural lines. For decades, domestic violence service providers have worked diligently to empower victims in Utah by educating them to obey the law and trust the system with their personal information. Therefore, UDVC responds to the names and social security numbers of immigrants released by two former employees of the Utah Department of Workforce Services (DWS). UDVC appreciates the actions taken by DWS including holding a dialogue with community groups, plans to hold seminars on access to services in local communities, and responding quickly regarding the actions of involved employees.

The release of such lists, however, poses a dangerous impact on victims of domestic violence in Utah. As a result of the release of information, service providers immediately began to deal with the impact. Some direct results include statements to victim advocates and domestic violence shelter advocates from domestic violence victims:

Victims have rights through the Constitutions of the United States and Utah. The constitutions afford victims the right to report crimes and be protected, the right to cooperate with law enforcement and the right to keep their personal information confidential.

Victim’s rights are violated by the disclosure of their personal information. Many of the people listed in the immigration list sought help for their U.S. born children. Because of the release of this information many immigrant victims may become more isolated and may not seek help to escape abusive relationships due to the lack of trust for agencies providing service. This could further jeopardize their safety.

Creating a list and not respecting confidentiality does not solve immigration issues. It creates a much worse scenario by imposing fear on behalf of citizens and undocumented people.

Protected personal information needs to remain private for victims of domestic violence to access life saving services. Confidentiality is the core of our work.

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