For Abused Undocumented Kids, a Legal Lifeline

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"The first step of creating the law and regulations, we've taken," Hlass says. "The next step is reviewing the application of the law." In a lot of places, it's hit or miss, she says. "We need to look at how it's applied across the country and what we can do to improve it."

In the meantime, Aicha dreams of becoming a surgeon. She spent a semester in college but couldn't afford to go back for more. Right now, she is earning $110 a week under the table by tutoring, and that's not enough to save money for school. Aicha hopes to find a better-paying job if she gets employment authorization.

Although she was disappointed when her SIJS case fell through, Aicha says she is cautiously optimistic about her VAWA petition. "I feel scared," she says. "But I hope and think that this time everything will turn out the way it's supposed to."

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