August 8th, 2012
Latino groups to the House: VAWA is hurting immigrants
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A coalition of leading national Latino organizations is calling for the House of Representatives to pass a Violence Against Women Act that protects vulnerable communities, and particularly immigrant women.
The version passed by the House earlier this year rolled back protections for immigrant victims of violence whose legal status is in the hands of an abusive spouse. It also put many perpetrators out of reach of law enforcement by making it harder for undocumented victims to report and assist in the prosecution of violent crimes.
Their joint statement to members of the House of Representatives, as well as stories of immigrant women and their children who have benefited from VAWA follows:
“As representatives of the broad and diverse communities of Latinos in the United States, we are deeply concerned that the House of Representatives has abandoned vulnerable communities in the Violence Against Women Act.
The House bill jeopardizes immigrant victims’ continued access to the legal protections they need to escape their abusers, pursue justice, and build stable lives free from violence.
Both parties have always been in agreement that an abuser shouldn’t be able to use a victim’s legal status as a tool of abuse and control. But the House version of VAWA strips away and undermines existing legal protections that allow victims to safely escape abusers and report perpetrators, leaving countless women and children vulnerable to domestic violence, rape, and other brutal crimes.
For immigrant women whose abusers control their legal status, their marriage can become a hostage situation. Other immigrant women are targeted by opportunistic predators who beat and rape them and then threaten them with deportation if they dare to seek help.
VAWA has offered a lifeline to thousands of these most vulnerable victims among us each year. We cannot let unsubstantiated claims about fraud be an empty excuse for sweeping changes that will gut a system that works and saves thousands of lives a year.
The House of Representatives must move forward on a VAWA that protects all communities that are vulnerable to abuse. This includes immigrants, the LGBT community, American Indian women, and students on college campuses.
The current impasse in Congress benefits no one. We ask all members of Congress who care about our constituencies to become part of the solution, press the House to change course, and stand up to protect immigrant women from abuse.”