Violence Against Women Act Reintroduced, Can It Pass the Infamously Backwards House GOP?
True to their words, yesterday Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) reintroduced the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. That’s good news, but the not so good news is that the new version of the bill has some compromises — namely, the part the GOP threw such a fit about to begin with. The new version is missing the section that would have increased the number of special visas allotted for undocumented immigrant victims of domestic violence.
Law enforcement uses them to grant legal status to undocumented victims so that those victims can assist in prosecuting their attackers, who might otherwise use their lack of legal status as leverage to keep them silent. There is a cap of 10,000 of these “U visas” a year, and the government consistently hits the cap. Although the visas themselves are handed out by law enforcement, and the increased number of visas would have come from unused visas in past years, Republicans objected to the increased number as an invitation for fraud. “Caps are a way to control the flow of people. They are a stop-gap measure against fraud,” Sen. Chuck Grassely (R-Iowa) said in a floor speech against the bill last year.
That’s really, really incredibly crappy. However, many activists for equality are saying we need to support Leahy and Crapo’s new version of the bill, noting there are other ways to get around the U visa issue (potentially in a new immigration reform bill).
“Does it thrill us that the U visa piece is not in there? Absolutely not,” says Lisalyn Jacobs of the women’s rights group Legal Momentum. “Are we sanguine about it, because we think we can now get a bill over to the House they can act on we hope? Yes.”