Image courtesy Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence
On Wednesday night (May 16), the U.S. House of Representatives passed a version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that, if enacted into law, could have serious implications for the safety of victims of domestic violence. Since the Senate has passed a more inclusive version of the bill, which continues to ensure important protections for immigrant survivors of domestic abuse, a 'conference committee' will now consider the two bills and decide which version will become law.
Once the members of this conference committee are announced, we will post their names here as key members to contact. For now, it is still important to call your Senators and Representative TODAY to urge them to enact the SENATE version of VAWA – and to REJECT the House version.
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is supposed to protect survivors of domestic violence, human trafficking, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking. Congress created VAWA in 1994, and has voted twice since then to reauthorize the law, each time with broad bipartisan support.
Abusers often exploit their victims’ immigration status or lack thereof, making them afraid to report the abuse to law enforcement. Because of prior versions of VAWA, current law empowers survivors of domestic violence to leave their abusers without immigration penalties, and encourages survivors to testify against their abusers in court by offering standard protections – which helps stop abusers from abusing again.
VAWA is up for reauthorization right now – but the House version goes against the intention of VAWA to actually roll back protections in current law for non-citizens in particular, making them much more vulnerable and, in some cases, endangering their lives.
If enacted into law, H.R. 4970, the VAWA version passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday night, would put thousands of immigrant women and children at risk. It is a giant step backwards. It's not the VAWA we know, or the VAWA we will accept.
The Violence Against Women Act must not be used as a political weapon to put non-citizen domestic violence survivors in harm’s way. I oppose the House version because it would:
Contact your Senators and Representative, urging them to only support the SENATE version of VAWA – and to REJECT the House version, H.R. 4970.