Editor's corner/ Over a cup of tea
Heidi M. Pascual*
Publisher & Editor
* 2006 Journalist of the Year
for the State of Wisconsin
Violence Against Women Act under attack
Our country has progressed so much in the last 15 years or so, as far as protecting
women against domestic violence and crime. Through the Violence Against Women Act
(VAWA) of 1994, a landmark legislation, criminal justice and community-based
responses to domestic violence, sexual assault and related crimes greatly improved. At
long last, the American society has now understood the need to address these crimes
that traditionally had left victims to suffer in silence. VAWA also fostered protections for
battered immigrant women and provided a closer look at our Native populations who
suffer the same fate.
The original VAWA was further improved in 2000 under the Battered Women Protection
Act, when the U.S. Congress identified dating violence and stalking as added related
crimes; created a legal assistance program for victims; and protected immigrant victims
by establishing U and T visas. U visas (effective up to four years) are granted to noncitizen
crime victims assisting in the prosecution of a criminal offense, and later are given work
|UNABLE TO CONTINUE WORKING??
There should be help.
Social Security Disability and SSI -
Programs designed to help individuals
who are disabled from work.
IF YOU APPLY FOR SOCIAL SECURITY
AND/OR SSI AND YOU ARE DENIED,
THERE IS HELP!
permits. T visas are granted to victims of severe forms of human trafficking, and who receive similar benefits as
refugees. Then in 2005, more enhancements to VAWA were created to include immigration protections to victims,
expanded services to include children and teens, and provided federal funding for rape crisis centers.
In 2012, however, instead of improving further the VAWA provisions to add provisions that might have been left in the
past, the GOP-controlled U.S. Congress—via the Cantor/Adams VAWA reauthorization bill--now seeks to repeal
protections for battered immigrant women, LGBT victims, and Tribal victims. A tri-caucus conference of the Asian Pacific
American, Black and Hispanic Congressional Caucuses was held May 16 to express strong opposition against this
bill. The Congressional Asia Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) said that this bill was drafted without input from service
providers, law enforcement agencies and prosecutors, and would therefore create a more dangerous environment for
immigrant women. This bill actually erases the path toward citizenship for holders of U visas, and imposes hurdles that
would discourage self-petition for relief by victims.
This bill – H.R. 4970-- passed the House on May 16th.
What a legal injustice for victims of violence in the immigrant community!!
I am reminded of the brutal slaying of a woman of color in my neighborhood a few years ago. She was killed by her
boyfriend who had promised her marriage to legalize her stay in the U.S. I learned from some people that the woman
suffered from domestic violence for several years, and that she couldn’t report to authorities her problem because she
was scared to be deported, a threat her boyfriend repeatedly pounded into her head. She left behind two small children
whose future became bleaker with their mom’s death.
There are thousands more cases that aren’t reported for similar immigration reason, and sometimes, for cultural
reasons, as well. Some cultures frown on women who come out in the open about being battered by their spouses. To
them, sweeping the domestic problem under the rug and keeping the family together are honorable virtues of a woman.
They hate rape crisis centers, domestic abuse services, and related community agencies. It would seem that this
current bill cater to this abhorrent form of conservatism.
I join the Tri-Caucus members in U.S. Congress and the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice (Advancing
Justice) that strongly condemn the approval of this VAWA authorization bill. I am extremely disappointed that our GOP
legislators in D.C. are willing to place women and children at risk in the name of a tougher immigration policy.
In a statement, Stewart Kwoh, president and
executive director of APALC, said, “The
Asian American and Pacific Islander
communities, which include more than 5
million immigrant women, support a robust
VAWA that protects all women. We cannot
go backward on this important issue.”
I applaud all the groups that expressed their
opposition to H.R. 4970. I hope that as the U.
S. Senate and the House move forward to
reconcile the Senate and House versions,
the final bill would keep VAWA as strong as
possible for all women, especially for
immigrant women who continuously suffer