Press Releases

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

House bill takes VAWA name, leaves Latinas behind

Press Release
Washington
Erin White, erin@caminopr.com / 212-255-2575

The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) condemns House passage of legislation that eradicates protections that have been available to immigrant victims of violence for almost twenty years and fails to include critical provisions to protect LGBTQ individuals experiencing intimate partner violence and other forms of abuse. H.R. 4970, which passed the House on a party line vote, was presented as a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), but in fact would roll back the protections established by that legislation.

“All members of our community, including our immigrant, Native American, and LGBTQ brothers and sisters, deserve to be protected from intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and other abuse,” said Jessica González-Rojas, executive director of NLIRH. “Ensuring everyone can live free from violence should be an issue that unites, not divides, us.”

When VAWA was first passed in 1994 with strong bipartisan support, Congress recognized that undocumented immigrants experiencing intimate partner violence face unique challenges in accessing justice. Abusers exploit their victims’ noncitizen status, leaving them afraid to report abuse. Historically, VAWA has included protections for battered immigrants; H.R. 4970 eliminates these critical protections.

This bill also fails to include important advances made in the bipartisan VAWA reauthorization that passed the Senate last month. The Senate bill, S. 1925, recognizes those who are victimized because of sexual orientation and gender identity as populations who face barriers to accessing and using victims’ services and includes non-discrimination provisions.

“For almost two decades, VAWA has extended support and protection to Latinas whose lives have been impacted or endangered by violence,” González-Rojas said. “It is unconscionable that House members would turn back the clock now. Latinas, their families, and our communities deserve better than this bill.”

NLIRH urges House members to advance a bipartisan VAWA reauthorization bill modeled after S. 1925 that continues VAWA’s legacy of providing life-saving protections and expanding access to justice.

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H.R. 4970 strips protection for battered immigrants, LGBTQ Latinas/os