05.08.12

Comments Of Senator Patrick Leahy On House Judiciary Committee Consideration Of Legislation To Reauthorize VAWA

Republican members of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee ignored the broad bipartisan support for the Senate-passed Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act.  Instead, the House Judiciary Committee Republicans insisted on crafting a controversial bill that that not only fails to include the Senate’s improved protections for Native American women and gay and lesbian victims, it removes historic protections for immigrant women and leaves them more vulnerable to domestic and sexual abuse.

“It is disappointing and troubling that Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee abandoned our bipartisan effort to protect all victims of domestic and sexual violence.  Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act moved swiftly through the Senate with strong bipartisan support, and the support of over 1000 local, state and national law enforcement, religious and women’s organizations.  The Senate-passed bill responds to the real needs of victims, as determined by those in the field working with those victims every day.  House Republicans rejected provisions called for by the nation’s leading law enforcement organizations.  The Senate bill responds to the unmet needs of vulnerable victims, including battered immigrant women, gay and lesbian victims and Native American women. 

“I fear that the provisions insisted upon by House Republicans would endanger victims in many ways.  The misguided effort to undercut adjudication of important VAWA self-petitions at the Vermont Service Center in St. Albans is one example.  Agents at district USCIS offices around the country lack the highly-specialized training of the dedicated agents of the Vermont Service Center.  Reallocating this work to district offices across the country will have the consequence of encouraging fraud in the system, as well as delaying needed support for real victims of domestic and sexual abuse, and endangering those victims by failing to protect their confidentiality and safety.

“I hope that House will listen to the service providers who know the needs of victims best, and reject the ill-conceived House Judiciary Committee provisions in favor of the bipartisan, Senate-passed Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act.”

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