Published: April 21, 2016
Luisa’s story occurred in Texas, but rattles the mind of those in Scranton.
Sociologist, activist and Fulbright Scholar Roberta Villalón, Ph. D., spoke to University students and faculty in the PNC Auditorium of the Loyola Science Center on Thursday.
Villalón wrote “Violence Against Latina Women: Citizenship, Inequality, and Community” expressing the tragedies and struggles she’s seen immigrants face firsthand during her time as a social worker for an organization in the Lonestar State.
On Thursday, she told a heartwrenching true story of an immigrant survivor named Luisa who could not receive more aid from the organization following an escape from an abusive relationship.
The police incarcerated Luisa’s abuser and sent Luisa to Villalón’s organization. Luisa suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder known as IPV, or Intimate Partner Violence.
She lived in low income housing barely getting by with inconsistent, abysmal work opportunities.
The organization supported Luisa until the police denied extending certification for her U visa.
U visas are nonimmigrant visas specifically produced for victims (or their immediate family members) of abuse who comply with law officials to prosecute the offender.
Afterward, Luisa lost benefits and protection and she never returned to the nonprofit organization Villalón worked for.
Villalón also spoke about obstacles potentially disabling immigrant survivors of IPV from obtaining long U Visa agreements. Barriers include marital status and sexual identity, abuser’s nationality and immigration status, and victim’s socioeconomic status.
Additionally, organizations limit their support based on a “good client profile.”
Susan Mendez, Ph.D, associate professor of English, theatre, Latin American and women’s studies, invited Villalón to speak.
Mendez said Luisa’s case “brought up the notation of the good client profile… if I remember correctly.”
“(Good clients) are the clients nonprofit organizations would prioritize, right. Clients that weren’t late, clients that didn’t bring in kids, clients that didn’t get emotional when re-telling their stories.”
Senior James Pennington was captivated by Villalón’s experience.
“I easily could’ve listened to her speak for another hour,” he said.
“I’ve never personally thought about (immigration issues) until listening to this speech. It made it very human and real.”
Villalón’s speech echoed into the hearts of those attended.
“One of my students who was in the lecture came to class on Friday and actually asked a question,” Mendez said in her office.
“His question was ‘what could you do to combat this ‘good client profile’?”
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