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Mujeres Applauds the Reauthorization of VAWA

The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act 2013 (VAWA S.47), a strong, bipartisan bill that originated in the Senate, passed in the House on February 28, 2013 with a vote of 286-138. The following is a statement by Mujeres Latinas en Acción:

Mujeres Latinas en Acción congratulates the House of Representatives for passing an inclusive, comprehensive version of the Violence Against Women Act.  VAWA S.47 was approved earlier this month in the Senate with strong bipartisan support. The reauthorization includes protections for immigrant, LGBTQ, and Native American victims, and ensures that we don’t pick and choose which victims to help.

Since its inception, VAWA has protected immigrant victims of domestic violence. The VAWA self-petition allows immigrants to obtain legal status on their own when their U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse, as part of the abuse, refuses to help them attain citizenship. In 2000, the U visa was added to VAWA as a temporary visa for immigrant victims of crimes who are assisting law enforcement with their case.  The reauthorized version extends and expands current VAWA protections for immigrant victims. It builds upon prior VAWA reauthorizations by adding “stalking” to the list of serious crimes covered by the U visa and strengthens the enforcement of the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act (IMBRA).

Mujeres serves more than 8,000 Latinas and their families every year, our two largest programs provide counseling for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Some of these victims are undocumented. Regularizing their status through VAWA has helped many of them regain their confidence, overcome their situation, and become successful. Without VAWA, many of these victims would continue to live in fear of their perpetrators, lacking protections and suffering in silence.

The reauthorization of VAWA with the expanded protections sends a clear message that violence against women and minorities will not be tolerated.