Since its enactment in 1994, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has received broad bipartisan support and included special protections for immigrant survivors of domestic violence, recognizing that the abusers of immigrant victims use their victims’ lack of immigration status as a tool for abuse.
In 2012, for the first time, Congress failed to reauthorize VAWA because congressional leadership failed to agree on how to make protections more effective for some of our nation’s most vulnerable groups: tribal, LGBT, and immigrant survivors. For the first time in VAWA’s history, entire groups of victims were singled out as less deserving of protection against abuse.
However, advocates and members of Congress who recognized the life-saving importance of VAWA kept the pressure high to pass VAWA quickly. In January 2013, Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) reintroduced VAWA, and the Senate passed the bill soon after, having defeated attempted amendments that would have excluded certain groups from protections.
The House is expected to take up the bill in the coming weeks. And once again, we'll have to fight to make sure that the House passes a VAWA reauthorization bill that protects all survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking.
Since VAWA was enacted in 1994, the reporting rate for domestic violence has increased by 51 percent. Click here to read survivors' stories.
Survey Report on VAWA Adjudications at Local USCIS Offices (June 2012)
Created by the Immigration Committee of the National Task Force to End Domestic and Sexual Violence