On May 16, the US House of Representatives’ passed what many recognize as a flawed bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). According to Tahirih Justice Center’s website, “The House bill (HR 4970) will actually harm immigrant victims of domestic and sexual violence because it:
- Rolls back vital protections which have for nearly 20 years enjoyed bipartisan support, and have proven life-saving for thousands of acutely vulnerable immigrant women and their children; and
- Undercuts law enforcement’s efforts to investigate and prosecute serious violent crimes with immigrant victims’ help.”
House Republicans favor this streamlined version because the law presumably already protects everyone. What are the specific traits considered unnecessary?
-more coverage for gay or transgender victims so they are not denied services
-extra measures to ensure that non-Indian men in tribal communities are prosecuted (tribal courts would be allowed, as once they leave the reservation perpetrators are rarely, if ever, prosecuted)
-expansion of the availability of special U-visas for undocumented immigrants who are victims of domestic violence.
According to the New York Times, “In May, the House Judiciary Committee approved its version of the reauthorization bill, which not only omits improvements the Senate bill made to the law but also removes existing protections for immigrant women, putting them at greater risk of domestic and sexual abuse. The House measure would eliminate a confidentiality requirement in current law that protects the identity of immigrant women who file domestic violence complaints against a spouse who is a citizen or legal resident and allows the women to apply for legal status on their own.”
Here’s another fun look at who opposes VAWA renewal with extended protections: http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2012/05/17/the_role_the_mail_order_bride_industry_plays_in_the_battle_over_the_violence_against_women_act_.html
Fear not, I feel like this is not the last we’ll hear of this.