Vanderbilt Law Review


Anna Byrne

First Page



In the 1990s, Congress began to devote increased attention to the problem of domestic violence, a rampant national problem with social and economic costs. At the same time, concerns about immigrants draining the social welfare service system and taking jobs away from U.S. citizens gave rise to an interest in more stringently monitoring and eradicating the illegal alien population in the United States. As part of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act ("VAWA"), Congress passed the battered spouse provision, attempting to reconcile its desires to address domestic violence and tighten immigration laws. Illegal immigrants are subject to removal procedures. However, because of the harshness of deportation, Congress passed statutes creating safe havens for aliens seeking to escape that fate. Aliens may apply to the Attorney General for cancellation of removal in one of two ways. First, and most commonly, aliens may invoke 8 U.S.C. § 1229b(b)(1)(D), which allows the Attorney General to cancel the removal of an alien who "establishes that removal would result in exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to the alien's spouse, parent, or child, who is a citizen of the United States or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence." Litigation has settled the boundaries of the "extreme hardship" provision.