The primary purpose of the Bi-National Project on Family Violence is to represent low-income survivors of family violence in cases that involve complex cross border issues.
Family violence perpetrators rely on a broad array of damaging tactics to exert control over and cause harm to their intimate partners. Perpetrators warn their partners that they will never see their children again if they don’t “obey”; threaten to report them to immigration authorities; tell them they will face isolation, shame and financial destitution should they seek a divorce or separation; and lie about the laws, making victims believe they have no legal options.
Unfortunately, all too often batterers make good on these threats. They abduct the children from one country to another to seek revenge; cause their partners to be deported or to flee the violence to another country; escape paying child support or obtain court orders awarding themselves custody of the children; and coerce their partners to stay by controlling access to information about applicable laws.
The devastating effects these abuses have on survivors of family violence are profound. These effects are compounded in cases where the parties are on opposite sides of an international border. Cross border family disputes are often complex, involving an array of jurisdictional issues and unique remedies. Low-income survivors of family violence whose cases have cross border issues historically have had no place to turn for assistance. As a result, batterers have long been able to take advantage of this situation with impunity.
TRLA established the Bi-National Project on Family Violence in recognition of the fact that familial relationships do not end at the United States – Mexico border. The BPFV’s primary purpose is to represent low-income survivors of family violence in cases that involve complex cross border issues. The BPFV provides the following services to low-income survivors of family violence:
- Preparation and submission of applications for assistance under The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (whether the client is in the United States or Mexico);
- Representation in custody disputes to obtain court orders that include provisions designed to prevent international child abduction;
- Defense against Hague Petitions filed by perpetrators seeking the return of children to another country;
- Assistance with Self-Petitions under the Violence Against Women Act;
- Assistance in obtaining court orders that are enforceable in the United States and Mexico;
- Assisting in enforcing court orders from one country in the other country;
- Representation and advice to other low-income survivors of violent crimes whose cases are affected by the cross border activities of the perpetrator.
- Technical Assistance to legal service providers on the international remedies available to victims of family violence whose children have been abducted to another country or who are fleeing with their children to the United States;
- Trainings targeted to staff of family violence shelters, advocates, law enforcement and government officials and other service providers in the United States and Mexico regarding the laws designed to prevent international child abduction and the remedies available to survivors once an abduction occurs;
- Recruitment of lawyers in Mexico willing to work on behalf of low-income Texas survivors of family violence who are in need of representation in Mexico, and;
- Coordination of services on both sides of the border to effectuate the return of abducted children to the safety and security of their homes.
Our brochures provide information regarding the prevention and resolution of abductions.
Brochures are available in English and Spanish. (pdf or word format).
- Be prepared : What can you do to reduce the risk of abduction
- Este preparado: lo que usted puede hacer para reducir el riesgo de secuestro
- Que hacer si su nino es secuestrado
- What to do if your child is abducted
Bi-National Project on Family Violence
Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc.
300 South Texas Blvd.
Weslaco, Texas 78596
1-800-369-0574 (toll free)
001-800-369-0574 (Mexico – toll free)