H.R. 4970 Undoes VAWA Protections

UnitedSikhs is in full support of the stance taken by the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) regarding Sections 801,802, and 806 of H.R. 4970. This bill reauthorizes the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) but weakens protections for migrant victims of violence and deters then from assisting law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of crimes involving their abusers.
As background, VAWA was enacted in 1994 to assist immigrants who were victims of abuse by a U.S. Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident by requesting them to come forward to report crimes and seek help. These abusers chose to keep their immigrant spouse in undocumented status as a method of abuse. In the past, Congress has continuously renewed VAWA showing that domestic violence is unacceptable in this country no matter what ones status.
The changes proposed in the H.R. 4970 create obstacles for abuse victims who would like to report crimes and increase the danger for immigrant victims by taking away confidentiality and anti-fraud protections. Most importantly, it rolls back two decades of progress in protecting vulnerable immigrant victims. In particular, Section 801 allows adjudicators to interview abusers for VAWA claims. This eliminates confidentiality protections for victims and deters then from stepping forward. Section 802 states that crimes must be reported within 60 days and other unreasonable barriers for victims. In many domestic violence situations it takes a while for a victim to step forward and seek help; this does not leave much room for courage to grow. Finally, Section 806 eliminates the opportunity for victims to become Lawful Permanent Residents. This discourages victims from coming forth and working with law enforcement. What motivation does a victim of domestic violence have to expose their vulnerable situation without the security that they will have a chance to create their own life here?
As an organization promoting safety and protection for victims of abuse and immigrants in this country, UnitedSikhs believes it is important for us to stand together in empowering our communities with avenues to escape domestic violence and pursue their American Dream.

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