Margarita's Freedom: Leaving the Shadows of Labor Trafficking and Domestic Violence

By Rosa Mitsumasu Scotti, Development Manager


Margarita* is a 40 year-old a Mexican woman who married a United States (U.S.) citizen that locked her into a life of domestic violence and forced servitude. Casa Cornelia staff attorney Evelyn Lopez took Margarita’s case, and applied for certain requirements placed on those who are processing their immigration status based on a marriage to a U.S. citizen. The application was successful and Margarita is now independent and free.

After marrying Joe*, a U.S citizen, Margarita* started a new life in the United States, and shortly after applied for legal permanent residency (LPR) as his wife. As time went by, her husband Joe began assaulting her, abusing her emotionally and physically. Joe also began threatening her with stopping the LPR application so she would remain undocumented and potentially deported.

Fearful for her life, Margarita left her husband and sought help at a domestic violence advocacy organization, which eventually referred her to Casa Cornelia for legal advice. Due to her history, Margarita was eligible for Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) relief. Staff attorney Evelyn Lopez took Margarita’s case, but during the legal process, Margarita returned to her husband. 

"Her husband Joe began assaulting her, abusing her emotionally and physically. [Fearful] for her life, Margarita left her husband and sought help at a domestic violence advocacy organization, which eventually referred her to Casa Cornelia for legal advice." 

​​As Margarita became the caretaker of Joe’s mother, she discovered that Joe planned to retire and forced Margarita to be the sole provider and caretaker of the household. This is why he continued with her permanent residency application—so she could work to support him and his mother. 

Joe became increasingly violent and abusive. Looking to end this ongoing cycle of violence, Margarita returned to Casa Cornelia in the Spring of 2017. Evelyn López reopened her case, and proceeded to file the appropriate petition to remove certain conditions for her residency. In November of 2018, Margarita’s application was approved and thus, no longer dependent on her U.S. citizen husband. Margarita is now independent and free from an abusive relationship that forced her into servitude.

Casa Cornelia Law Center is incredibly grateful to everyone who contributed to the success of this case. Thank you so much for your support!




* Names have been changed to protect confidentiality.