Violence Against Women Act 2012 Reauthorization enables abuse of immigrant women

House Bill on Violence Would Hand Power to Abusers of Immigrant Wom...

The immigration provisions in HR4970, that the judiciary committee in the House of Representatives passed removes protections now available to immigrant women victims of domestic abuse. If she makes a mistake on an application for protection, it authorizes jail, expedited deportation, and permanently barring her and her children from the US.

HR4970 eliminates important confidentiality protections that are critical to ensure the victims’ safety.

HR4970 decentralizes the processing of these applications and gives local immigration offices authority to adjudicate VAWA petitions. ... Local district offices are ill equipped to handle these highly sensitive cases.

HR4970 ignores the dearth of access to legal counsel and language barriers many immigrant victims of violence face and exacts severe punishment for anyone who makes a mistake in the process. HR4970 raises the standard of proof required to succeed in a VAWA application to a standard higher than has been set for asylum applicants. In addition, if the government finds “material misrepresentation” in an application, the victim and her derivatives, including young children, will be permanently barred from all immigration protections, she will also be referred to the FBI for criminal prosecution, and will be removed on an “expedited basis.” Let me repeat: this bill would criminally prosecute victims of violence who make a mistake on their application for protection. To provide further punishment, applicants’ children also would also be permanently barred from immigration benefits, including prosecutorial discretion and deferred action.

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