Since 1994 Congress has worked in a bi-partisan fashion to protect victims of domestic violence and sexual assault by enacting the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and then reauthorizing it two more times. In creating VAWA, Congress recognized that abusers were using immigration status as a tool of abuse and sought to protect immigrant victims of violence by creating self-petitions and the U Visa category. Those vital goals are now in jeopardy in Congress. H.R. 4970 (Rep. Adams R-FL), the version of VAWA that will be debated and voted on in the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, severely undermines protections available to vulnerable immigrant victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and serious crime. This bill will literally place victims at further risk of harm.
H.R. 4970 will roll back years of progress and bi-partisan commitment on the part of Congress to protect victims of violence. This bill will completely undercut the U visa program and VAWA self-petitioning by eliminating VAWA confidentiality, denying U visa recipients the ability to adjust their status, creating barriers to protection that will deter victims from cooperating with law enforcement, and holding victims of abuse to a higher standard than other applicants for immigration benefits. In short, H.R. 4970 denies victims the very protections created VAWA and even helps perpetrate the abuse from which they are seeking to escape. Tell your Representative to stand up for immigrant victims of violence by saying NO to these bad provisions. As the House Judiciary Committee gears up to debate and vote on this bill, they need to know that we stand in opposition to these terrible provisions. Last week we watched the Senate take bi-partisan action by passing a VAWA bill that retains these important protections. Now, we must tell the House of Representatives to follow suit WITHOUT sacrificing the safety of immigrant victims of violence in the process.