VAWA in Jeopardy of Being Undermined
In 1994, Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in order to protect victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. It was passed with the cooperation of members of both parties and since 1994 it was been reauthorized two more times. The language within VAWA also sought to protect immigrants without status who were victims of abuse and violence, but couldn’t come forward for fear of deportation. VAWA as it is currently enacted allows these victims to create self-petitions and also use the U-visa to make claims. H.R. 4970, which has been put forward by Representative Adams (Republican-FL) is the version of VAWA which will be debated and then voted on in the House Judiciary Committee in the near future. This resolution takes away many of the protections for immigrant victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and serious crime. If this resolution becomes law, it will place victims at a high risk of future harm and fails to accomplish some of the most elemental aspects of the bipartisan bill that has been on the books for over 18 years.
Details of H.R. 4970
H.R. 4970 aims to undercut the aspects of VAWA which affect immigrants by limiting the U visa program and self-petitioning. The bill eliminates VAWA confidentiality, takes away U visa recipients’ ability to adjust their immigration status, and creates barriers to protection from abusers that will have the effect of deterring cooperation with law enforcement. All the while, victims who are looking to make a VAWA claim will be help to a higher standard than others applying for immigration benefits. If you feel that the details of this bill are unfair and that sacrificing the safety of immigrants is not the kind of immigration reform we should be pursuing, it is important that you contact your representative to let your feelings be known. The House Judiciary Committee will be voting on this bill and if the people want VAWA to retain the protections it currently encapsulates, the members of that committee must know.
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