Below is a guest post written by our Legal Director Chris Mansour about the importance of VAWA reauthorization.
Our client Lisa was raped by her stepfather for over a year, starting when she was nine years old. When he was finally caught, she courageously told the police what he had done to her, even though she was terrified that he would make good on his threats to kill her mother if she reported him. Now her stepfather is in jail and Lisa is a permanent resident who is attending college and hopes to be a pediatrician, veterinarian, or a police officer.
This story of survival and justice would not have been possible without the Violence Against Women’s Act (VAWA) which provides for U Visas for immigrants who are victims of violent crimes and cooperate with law enforcement to prosecute the perpetrator. This law, which has enjoyed broad bipartisan support since 1994, should have been reauthorized months ago, but stalled last spring because the Senate and House of Representatives passed different versions of the bill. Today, Human Rights Initiative, along with a national coalition of organizations who work with victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, is participating in a VAWA National Day of Action. Please call your Senator and Representative today and ask them to pass VAWA now! We are urging Congress to pass the Senate’s version of the bill before Congress’s special session ends on December 14.
The House version of the bill dramatically reduces the protections afforded to abused immigrants. It practically destroys the U Visa by greatly limiting the circumstances in which the cooperating victim can be eligible for a green card. The House bill also complicates the VAWA self-petitioning process for battered spouses of U.S. Citizens and green card holders. These women are eligible to apply for immigration status because of their marriage, however, many abusers use the woman’s undocumented status as a tool in the cycle of abuse.
HRI supports the Senate version of VAWA, which continues the important protections for survivors of abuse and crime, not just in the immigration context but for all women, including many marginalized and vulnerable groups. Information on how to contact your Senator and Representative is listed below.
Please consider calling on Congress to pass VAWA during its Special Session so that HRI can continue to help girls like Lisa. Lisa was brought to the United States at age three and bravely shared the horrifying details of her abuse with police when she was 11. Her abuser is in jail. She became an AP student in high school and now she is in college and will go on to be a productive member of society. This remarkable story would not have been possible if she had to worry about being deported when her U status ended after 4 years. For more information on the VAWA National Day of Action, please go to http://4vawa.org/.
To contact your member of Congress, please click the links below:
Thank you in advance for your support!