Target: U.S. House of Representatives
Goal: Ensure that all women who are victims of domestic violence and abuse are unhindered in seeking help by raising the limit on special visas for women this year and next.
The special U visas for women, under the Violence Against Women Act, provide undocumented immigrants who are victims of violence, and their families, temporary legal status and eligibility to work in the U.S. For the third year in a row, the number of special visas allowed has reached its limit, this time quite early. Congress needs to pass a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, including improvements to the act, and in the meantime, raise this year’s limit so that no victims of violence are discouraged from coming forward for help.
Though this reauthorization of the act passed easily in the Senate, House Republicans have significantly reduced its effectiveness. They would not approve the increase in visas from 10,000 to 15,000, prevented new protections for gay or bisexual victims, and they prevented victims from applying for permanent residency after three years. Without the comprehensive protections in the Violence Against Women Act, many victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and other life-altering crimes would continue to be abused, while abusers would go unimpeded. Undocumented immigrants are especially vulnerable because perpetrators of violence often take advantage of the victim’s fear of asking for help while uncertain of their rights and consequences. The act provides victims legal support and encouragement to seek help, and provides them and their families legal status and eligibility to work in the U.S. for over four years.
Since the limit on U Visas has been reached, for the rest of the fiscal year undocumented victims of violence will be further discouraged from coming forward for help, and perpetrators of violence will go unpunished . The Violence Against Women Act has been widely successful, reducing domestic violence by a significant percent since 1993. Please request that The House of Representatives vote on the improvements both parties widely approved in the Senate, and ensure punishment for acts of violence and protections for all victims of violence in the United States.
Dear U.S. House of Representatives,
The Violence Against Women Act has been widely successful and as more victims of violence are aware of rights and protections, the act needs to expand and improve so that more groups are able to receive the help they need. With strong bipartisan support, improvements to this act passed in the Senate, but were crippled by the House. Please realize the vital importance of upgrading this act to ensuring public safety in the United States.
The Act reduced domestic violence by almost 70% from 1993-2010 and has continued to make huge leaps in helping rescue and empower victims since then. Undocumented immigrant women are especially vulnerable, and hesitant to seek help, so U visas are immensely important in giving them rights and protections while they reside in the U.S. As in the two preceding years, the limit for U visas has been reached this year, only earlier. As a result, victims of violence are currently being denied help, causing regression in women’s confidence, and discouraging them from seeking help.
Please join the Senate in extending the number of U visas offered to women this year, and additionally in reevaluating the improvements made to the Violence Against Women Act in the Senate. Vote to support, without discrimination, all victims of violence in the United States in order to ensure public safety.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Mira Hartford via Flickr