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AILA Resources on the Violence Against Women Act (Updated 3/7/13)

Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 12050742 (posted Mar. 7, 2013)"

On 2/28/13, the House of Representative passed, with broad bipartisan support, Senate bill 47, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act officially sending the bill to the President's desk for his signature. (AILA Doc. No. 13012342.) The House of Representatives first voted down a bad House VAWA substitute bill that rolls back many of the protections for immigrant victims of violence. The substitute was defeated in a vote of 257 to 166.

On 2/12/13 the Violence Against Women Act, S. 47, passed out of the Senate on a vote of 78-22 with a strong bipartisan show of support (and without the bad immigration amendments). All eyes are turning to the House of Representatives now, where VAWA stalled last year.

On 2/7/13 Senator Grassley's bad VAWA amendments (to make a third DUI conviction an aggravated felony for immigration removal purposes, to amend the crime of violence definition for immigration purposes, and to expand aggravated felonies to include all domestic violence convictions) included in his VAWA substitute package were all defeated on a vote of 65-34.

On 2/4/13 the Senate voted with an overwhelming majority (85-8) to move forward with a vote on a bipartisan Violence Against Women Act (VAWA - S. 47) that strengthens protections for all victims of sexual and domestic violence, particularly Native Americans, immigrants and LGBT survivors of violence. On 1/22/13 H.R. 11, S. 5 and S. 47, three bills to Reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, were introduced by Rep. Moore (D-WI), Sen. Reid (D-NV) and Sen. Leahy (D-VT) respectively in the 2013 Congress. Both Senate bill have bi-partisan support.

Enacted in 1994 and reauthorized twice in 2000 and 2005, VAWA has a long history of uniting lawmakers with the common purpose of protecting survivors of domestic violence. When VAWA was first conceived, Congress recognized that the noncitizen status of battered immigrants can make them particularly vulnerable to crimes of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking. The abusers of undocumented immigrants often exploit the victims' immigration status, leaving the victim afraid to seek services or report the abuse to law enforcement and making them fearful of assisting with the investigation and prosecution of these crimes. Congress sought to address this through the enactment of provisions in VAWA that enhance safety for victims and their children and provide an important tool for law enforcement to investigate and prosecute crimes.

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