/ Modified jun 30, 2016 8:31 a.m.

Central American Women Abused, Tucson Official Says

Women fear deportation if they report problems; men use that as means of control.

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A new wave of Central American women and children fleeing violence in their home countries is expected to peak this summer, and a domestic violence expert in Tucson says that will raise fears about their safety en route and in the U.S.

Amnesty International reports up to 80 percent of the women have been physically abused. One Tucson domestic violence expert said Arizona laws often keep agencies from helping these women, because the laws prohibit use of government funding for anyone who is not a citizen.   

At the same time, such women are subject to abuse because they don't want to expose their legtal status by reporting abuse to authorities.

“It becomes one of the main tactics for abuse," said Anna Harper Guerrero of EMERGE, a Tucson domestic violence agency. She said once women are in the country, many are controlled by men who use their legal status to control them.

“By using threats to call Border Patrol or creating fear by saying if you go out of the house and someone sees you the Border Patrol is going to deport you," Harper said.

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