Friday, November 8, 2013

White House Cites Domestic Violence in Push for Immigration Reform

    The White House is ramping up a new push for the president's version of comprehensive immigration reform.  In an opening salvo, White House advisor on Violence Against Women Lynn Rosenthal wrote a blog entry entitled, "Comprehensive Immigration Reform: Survivors Can’t Afford to Wait", saying that "it’s up to Republicans in the House to decide whether to move forward with immigration reform."  Ms. Rosenthal framed the argument in the context of the just-ended Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October:
Domestic Violence Awareness Month has ended, but our work to end abuse continues. Today, in this country, women and children continue to suffer from unspeakable violence because they are afraid to seek help without legal status. When immigrant survivors of abuse without legal status are, according to one study, half as likely to call the police to seek the help they need, we must act.
Rosenthal goes on to say the federal law (Violence Against Women Act) already contains provisions to help immigrant victims of abuse, more needs to be done.
Since it was first signed into law in 1994, the Violence Against Women Act or VAWA has recognized the need for special protections for immigrant survivors of abuse, including self-petitions and categories of visas for victims of violent crimes and human trafficking. But while VAWA includes key provisions to help immigrant survivors, it is not enough. 
Rosenthal cites fear of deportation, potential homelessness, and economic dependence as reasons many immigrant women - documented or undocumented - do not seek help.  She noted that the Senate had passed legislation already, and asserted that "[u]nlike many other issues in Washington, immigration reform is one that both parties can agree on."

Note: A version of this article first appeared at The Weekly Standard.

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