The Senate has passed, with strong bipartisan support, legislation to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). On Tuesday, the House of Representatives advanced a harmful version of the VAWA bill that would undermine protections for battered immigrants. Introduced by Representative Sandy Adams (R-FL-24), H.R. 4970 has provisions that would roll back protections in current law for battered non-citizens, making them more vulnerable and, in some cases, endangering their lives.
H.R. 4970 would undermine years of congressional progress and bipartisan commitment to protecting victims of violence. The bill would undercut humanitarian visa programs enacted to assist victims of crime and domestic violence, deny crime victims the chance to adjust their immigration status, erect barriers to protection that would deter victims from cooperating with law enforcement, and hold abuse victims to a higher standard than other applicants for immigration benefits. Put simply, H.R. 4970 denies victims the very protections established by VAWA and even helps perpetrate the abuse from which they are trying to escape.
LIRS and a broad cross-section of other faith leaders and organizations recently sent a letter to the House Judiciary Committee to register serious concerns about these immigration provisions. Law enforcement authorities, domestic violence groups, and immigrant rights organizations also conveyed their dismay to the committee. Nonetheless, after a full day of work, the committee approved the bill with only minor changes.
Next week, the House of Representatives is expected to take up the VAWA measure for a vote. It’s crucial that Congress continue to hear from concerned constituents that the immigration provisions of H.R. 4970 are unacceptable. Congress must pass VAWA legislation that protects immigrant survivors. Please add your voice at the LIRS Action Center and encourage friends and family to do the same!