President and Congress Must Uphold Commitment to Protect Victims of Violence

May 16, 2012

Next Step in VAWA Reauthorization Process is Critical to Keep Protections Intact for Abused Immigrant Women

Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center calls on Congress and President Obama to uphold the commitment the U.S. government made nearly 20 years ago to protect immigrant victims of violence under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). They must reject HR4970, passed today by the U.S. House of Representatives as part of the VAWA reauthorization process, which puts abused immigrant women at risk.

“HR4970 is not VAWA; it is mean-spirited legislation that threatens to gut protections for immigrant victims of violence,” said Mony Ruiz-Velasco, director of legal services, Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center. “But members of Congress and the president still have an opportunity to keep VAWA intact and keep the promise our government made when VAWA first passed in 1994 by a wide bipartisan margin.”

HR4970 leaves out modest improvements that were included in the widely supported Senate VAWA bill, S1925, and also includes amendments that significantly undercut existing protections for immigrant survivors. The Senate and House bills must now be reconciled in conference, one final opportunity for members of Congress to ensure that protections for victims of violence remain intact

It is important to note that VAWA’s longstanding protections will remain available until Congress passes a final reauthorization bill and President Obama signs it into law. President Obama has threatened to veto HR4970 if it survives reconciliation, and we are hopeful that victims of violence will never have to contend with the changes threatened by HR4970.

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