It is to be hoped that the immigration community is aware of and is taking advantage of a very important piece of legislation known as the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The intention of VAWA is to protect the undocumented immigrant from abusive relationships with U.S. Citizens (USC) or Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR). If you are the spouse or child of a USC or LPR, or the parent of a USC, who is battered or subject to extreme cruelty, you may file a self-petition for your “green card” independently of the abusive USC/LPR spouse or parent. The child of a battered spouse is included without a separate petition. Remember, the abuser must have papers. Victims of similar violent abuse at the hands of the undocumented can apply for a different, nonimmigrant U visa, which will be the subject of another blog soon. But, for now, I’d like to explain to you how VAWA can help you or a loved one obtain Lawful Permanent Residence.
President Obama Signs Bill to Strengthen and Reauthorize the VAWA Act
Yesterday, President Obama signed a bill that both strengthened and reauthorized the VAWA Act. Thanks to this bipartisan agreement, thousands of women and men across the country who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking will be able to access resources they need in their communities to help heal from their trauma. In addition, thousands of law enforcement officers will be better equipped to stop violence before it starts, and respond to calls of help when they are needed.
The new law will provide resources for thousands of victims and better equip law enforcement officials to stop violence before it starts. After a great deal of effort and backing from women and immigrant’s advocates, it passed with bipartisan support in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Rates of Domestic Violence Decrease Since First Written Into Law 18 Years Ago
It builds on a law that Vice President Biden first wrote 18 years ago -- which has helped to decrease the rates of domestic violence across the country. It includes provisions aimed at reducing dating violence among teams and strengthening protections for lesbian gay, bisexual, and transgender victims.
It also seeks to bring justice to Native American communities -- where rates of domestic violence are among the highest in the country—it’s what’s right for our country. I just watched an incredible movie about the plight of the Native Americans at the hands of those who wanted to brainwash them to erase all identification with their heritage and culture. The name of the movie is “Older Than America.” I highly recommend it.
VAWA Helps to Reduce the Number of Domestic Violence Homicides
Anyway, back to VAWA and what it could mean for you and your family. For the past 18 years, since Vice President Biden initially wrote the Act in 1994, VAWA has helped to decrease the rates of domestic violence across the country. Now, the government will be better equipped to recognize violence in its early stages, and help to reduce the number of domestic violence homicides.
The reauthorization also makes a strong effort to address the extraordinarily high rates of violence among our young people. Last week, in honor of Teen Dating Violence Awareness month, Obama and Biden spoke at an event with families of victims of dating violence, and youth and organizations. It was incredibly encouraging to see people of all ages united in the fight against teen dating violence.
I am hopeful that teens and young adults will have better access to prevention and intervention programs to help break the cycle of violence around the country. Studies have shown that one in five women will be the victim of an attempted or completed sexual assault while they are in college. We need to find a way to help these young scholars be able to focus on growing and learning, instead of being fearful of being assaulted on campus. This Act will help by requiring colleges and universities to provide information to students about dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking and improve data collection about these crimes. We should demand that all of our colleges and universities make ending sexual assault a top priority.
It was encouraging to me that Congress held the line and maintained protections for battered immigrants and took the important step of also reauthorizing the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, as well. No one should have to live in fear of violence, especially in his or her home, and VAWA affirms that belief. VAWA will go a long way to ensure that victims and survivors can continue to be provided the vital resources they deserve. Our country is better off for it.
The Law Offices of Daniel E. Chavez is located in Sonoma County, and helps indeviduals and families with immigration law issues throughout the Northern California Bay Area. Contact Attorney Daniel Chavez to set time to discuss your specific immigration legal issue.