Comprehensive Immigration Reform Crucial For Immigrant Women

As debate of S.744 continues on the Senate floor, the makeup and effectiveness of immigration reform continues to be a very hot topic on Capitol Hill. Although this bill has overcome countless speed bumps, both troubling amendments and a not so welcoming House has created an uneasy stir amongst supporters. Among these supporters are the members of the We Belong Together campaign. This campaign is comprised of a group of women and men who with a collective voice are calling for the enactment and defense of policies that ensure that immigrant women will benefit from immigration reform. This week, with immigration reform being at its most crucial juncture since 2006, I joined the We Belong Together in one of the most pure and simple rights granted to us: the right to petition our government.

On Tuesday, 150 supporters and myself marched into forty different congressional offices, with the goal of informing congressional offices in both the House of Representatives and the Senate of the important role that immigrant women play in their homes, their communities, and their countries. We tipped our caps to supporters, shamed the opposition, and had productive and meaningful discussions with staffers and in some cases representatives themselves.

The importance of lobbying trips like Tuesday’s is immeasurable. According to an article recently posted on Politico, women and children make up for roughly 75% of all immigration to the United States, with women also accounting for a combined 51% of undocumented persons migrating to America. The immigration bill currently on the floor has done a great job of creating a tough but not overwhelming path to citizenship for all immigrants, as well as a strong family reunification clause that allows families to stay together through a broader “family visa system”. It has also welcomed with open arms sufferers of human trafficking or abuse to receive legal status in order to remove victims from a bad environment.

However, there is still so much to do. In addition to lobbying Congress to keep rebuffing attempts to amend and weaken the immigration reform, there is still a virtually non-existent discussion of reform in the House of Representatives. While the Senate bill has taken tremendous leaps in reform for all immigrants, the bill needs to overcome a partisan House and that may lead to its demise. Here enters the We Belong Together campaign, as well as the countless groups that supported the cause by showing up on Tuesday. If I learned anything from my time lobbying with these amazing women it would be that there is genuine power in constituents voicing their opinion, a fact that we as citizens often overlook.

I am positive that our efforts made a difference, and I encourage anyone interested to support the cause.  It may be as simple as calling your local elected official, but if interested you can find out more about the We Belong Together campaign, and upcoming lobbying events on their website.

-Paul Stern Immigrant/Worker’s Rights Intern

Immigration Amendments Post of the Day

Today we are keeping an eye out for discussions in the Senate Judiciary Committee on a few key immigration bill amendments that are set to be discussed in the coming days.

Klobuchar 1 and Leahy 3: Provides work authorization for survivors of domestic violence who have self-petitioned under VAWA; Provides work authorization for victims of human trafficking and violence who are awaiting T visas and U visas.

Why is this important? Work is a vital element of independence. All too often, the abusive spouse not only exerts control through physical or emotional abuse, but also through economic hostage-taking. If the abused spouse is dependent for housing, food, clothing, and other basic needs, he/she faces incredibly difficult barriers to leaving. Currently, undocumented victims of domestic violence are unable to work legally until their status is resolved. This leaves them with three choices: stay in the abusive relationship, leave the relationship and work illegally and risk arrest and deportation (as well as risking human trafficking and/or exploitative working conditions at the hands of unscrupulous employers), or, leave the relationship and enter a homeless shelter and become dependent on scant public resources. For victims of human trafficking, the inability to work legally makes them vulnerable to re-trafficking, as they have no choice but to take huge personal risks in order to provide for their families in the US and abroad. These amendments would allow the survivor to obtain work authorization, and eventually financial independence, as they petition for immigration relief under the Violence Against Women Act or the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

 

Today we are also watching for  Blumenthal 17, which provides protections for H-2B visa holders who speak out against workplace abuses—including sexual harassment.

H-2B guestworkers organize against all odds. They face not only termination, but eviction, deportation, and blacklisting when they defend their workplace rights. This is a critical protection at a critical time—the immigration bill significantly expands the H-2B guestworker program, potentially exposing hundreds of thousands more workers to abuse. Why is this relevant to our work at Break the Chain Campaign? Because we know that abuse and human trafficking occur on a continuum of exploitation. If workers are unable to speak out against exploitative conditions on the job without fear of termination or deportation, then there is little stopping the employers who take that abuse even further into slavery and human trafficking. One only needs to examine the David v. Signal case to see this.

Our friends at the National Guestworker Alliance summarize the need for this amendment here

 

 

 

 

 

Spotlight on Local Human Trafficking Bills: Pennsylvania and Virginia

This is the first post from Shannon Rosedale,Break the Chain’s Spring 2013 Human Trafficking Advocacy Intern

In order to fully evaluate ourselves, it’s important to look outside and observe others around us. How are other people living? How are they succeeding? How are they failing? How am I in comparison to them, do I like that outcome? It’s just as important to do this with our legislation and policies as it is within our individual lives. Recently, I’ve been diving into the current policies that Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC have been using in order to control and regulate human trafficking in the respected districts and states. While doing this I began to read about a senator from West Whiteland, PA who is doing a phenomenal job at taking a stand and acknowledging the problem that is human trafficking.

State Senator Andy Dinniman (D) has stood up and said he wants to see a change in policy. By passing Act 197,  National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline Notification Act, which will require “travel centers like airports, train, and bus stations, as well as businesses like: adult clubs, personal service establishments were physical contact might take place behind closed doors, bars and hotels that are considered to be drug-related problems to post human trafficking hotline posters in clearly marked and visible areas. It also states that the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency must work to provide support services, including housing, health care, child care, substance abuse counseling, career assistance and legal assistance to human trafficking victims (Senator Andy Dinniman and “Facing the Monster: Slavery Then and Now”).”

Senator Dinniman has taken a stand and continues to try and better resources for victims of trafficking. This is a stand and a change that many of us can take and should be encouraged to do so likewise. This Act in particular will be supporting the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (contact them 24 hours a day/7 days a week), a national toll-free hotline created by Polaris Project. Polaris is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works exclusively on the issue of human trafficking.

Along with the Act 197, Senators in Pennsylvania are working towards passing Senate Bill 75 that reinforces and clarifies the human trafficking laws for the state so that they can better be used for law enforcement. As of now in Pennsylvania, as in many states, it’s hard to prosecute offenders and help victims regain confidence in the political system. Often victims of human trafficking can face other charges like prostitution, even if they have been forced against their will into the trade. Dinniman said in a recent interview that “to effectively fight human trafficking we must give law enforcement personnel the tools they need to bring perpetrators to justice and help victims begin the path to recovery.”

I think that this is an important view that needs to be taken much more seriously by senators across the country. Currently in Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has been working to make this a top priority in 2013. He has been leading a bipartisan effort to promote new legislation to fight trafficking. He has plans of leading a two day conference for law enforcement and prosecutors to meet and be trained in how to properly deal with the issue. It’s a good thing to see someone step up and recognize that this is a major issue.

Overall, it’s a positive thing to see and compare that a Senator from West Whiteland, Pennsylvania and an Attorney General in Virginia focusing on an issue that is affecting individuals across the world in developing nations and forgotten places. I challenge our political figures to continue fighting for the rights of all human beings to be free from human trafficking.

-          Shannon R. 

How are immigrant women and their families protected when they are victims of sexual violence?

Sexual assault is an inexcusable and disheartening crime that happens to about 1 in 4 or 1 in 6 women. Law enforcement, social workers and individuals alike aim to do their part in ensuring that their fellow peers are safe. However, are women and girls protected if they are not “legal” in the United States? Are undocumented immigrants able to receive justice for sexual abuse and violence? The answer is yes, but it can be difficult to do so.

Sexual assault cases are the least reported crimes and 67% of survey respondents believe that immigrants report crimes less frequently than other victims. Sexual assault refers to rape (including acquaintance rape, rape by stranger(s), rape within a marriage or intimate relationship, rape by a friend, family member, acquaintance, etc.), as well as attempted rape, incest, child sexual abuse, exhibitionism, voyeurism, obscene phone calls, fondling, sexual harassment, and forced prostitution.

The reasoning behind the lack of reporting sexual crimes with immigrants include: fear of retaliation, ignorance of the U.S. criminal justice system, language barriers as well as deportation. It is especially difficult to report sexual crimes if immigrants live in communities that are not as integrated with immigrant groups or vice-versa. Immigrants can feel more or less threatened by where they reside.  Undocumented survivors of sexual violence and/or abuse fear not only the trauma of the abuse itself but also the legal, economic and community pressures that come with having an unauthorized status. Immigrant women may not know who to turn to or who may be the “safest” person to confide in. Social services may also be out of reach for them because employees may lack the experience to work with sexual violence cases of illegal immigrants, so many of these women can  feel socially isolated.

Immigrant girls and families may also fear that disclosure about their sexual activity may be looked down upon in their community and family members. Privacy is another big reason why sexual assaults are not reported to law enforcement for fear that a victim’s privacy will be breached within the immigration community or they may be misunderstood. If a victim’s identity was revealed it may impede the victim’s ability to seek service. Language is a huge burden as well because the need for an interpreter is vital for those who are non-English speakers.

In addition,  immigrants in general have  increased tensions surrounding the pressures to assimilate into American culture. To seek refuge in a shelter may not be ideal, even if they are the victims of abuse, because they may not want to risk losing the attachment they have within their community. The U.S. law enforcement may also seem like the enemy and survivors may believe the perpetrator will be protected and their own story will be discredited.

In order to change feelings of uncertainty, survivors need to made aware of the rights they DO have regardless of their status. There is a “blind” reporting system in which law enforcement agencies can establish and uphold a policy of victim confidentiality and allow victims to disclose as little or as much information as they wish.

Despite having unauthorized status, all people in the United States are guaranteed basic protections under both civil and criminal law (this includes being protected from abusive marital partners). Laws can provide families with

  • The right to obtain a protection order for you and your child(ren).
  • The right to legal separation or divorce without the consent of your spouse.
  • The right to share certain marital property.  In cases of divorce, the court will divide any property or financial assets you and your spouse have together.
  • The right to ask for custody of your child(ren) and financial support.  Parents of children under the age of 21 often are required to pay child support for any child not living with them.

For undocumented families that have been victims of these crimes and have cooperated with police, there is also the U-Visa, which would grant protection and a special visa that would grant them legal status in the United States and they can be read here.

-Latosha

Why is it so important to get involved in the issues of Caring Across Generations?

In today’s society the baby boomers are quickly approaching the age of 65 and home care workers are needed more and more to provide for the elderly and disabled. Caring Across Generations is a national campaign that aims to provide quality care to communities (especially seniors and people with disabilities) and create dignity and fair working conditions for home care workers.  Now, more than ever, it is increasingly important that communities find ways to get involved and become aware of at least a few of the core issues Caring Across Generations stands for because it matters.

Caring Across Generations believes in access to a dignified quality of life for all. Quality of life and quality of care cannot be separated –they are related and interdependent.  No matter what our needs and abilities are we all want to live with dignity and have control over our lives. The decency of living for senior citizens should not be ignored as it involves their quality of life. Bringing about changes to higher standards of living in residential care, such as nursing homes, holds onto the importance of maintaining a respectful environment. Individuals who may have grandparents, relatives or friends under the care of a nursing home should become more informed about ensuring that the elderly and disabled are not deprived of their rights to dignity and good quality of life. You may ask yourself the question, “Would I want to give up these rights when I am 80, 90 or 100 year old?”

Respect for the elderly and people with disabilities is also a core value of Caring Across Generations and is important because the elderly and disabled deserve the same moral principles we would give anyone else. Dignity is to be deserved of all people and regrettably, the elderly and disabled are more likely to be treated unfairly and become isolated. For example, when older people retire, they may be excluded from wider involvement in society and may experience a loss of their own dignity. Being treated more as an object than a person and generally being rushed and not being listened to without the direct and personal care of a home care provider can inhibit one’s sense of personal identity and dignity.

Caring Across Generations also strives for access to dignified, quality jobs for all. There is a large gap between the home care that is needed and what the current workforce of home care workers is able to provide. The exploitative and vulnerable nature of the home care workforce is currently presenting a social crisis (employees are leaving the booming field because of the lack of benefits and labor protections).  As a nation, we have yet to take collective responsibility for providing a dignified quality of life for our elders. Providing a dignified quality of life for the elderly and disabled starts with making sure that home care workers have fair labor protections and benefits so they are able to give as much time and effort to their clients as possible.

In order to make sure jobs are just and safe so that the elders and disabled are cared for, people from all walks of life should join together to create change within this system. In order to care for our country’s aging population, investing in home care will prove to be more beneficial. 7.6 million people receive home care in the United States and we must ensure that the elderly and disabled are provided with dignity and respect, that direct care workers have fair and safe working conditions, and that workers have access to the appropriate training, career advancement, and citizenship.

Caring Across Generations is connected to hundreds of partner organizations and coalitions for those interested in reading more and getting involved. Everyone has a hand in transforming care in this nation.

-Latosha

Dignity and fair working conditions for home care workers

Personal, private home care assistance is more practical and welcomed these days as well as less of an expense to the elderly, disabled, and their families than nursing homes. The number of senior citizens and aging baby boomers are also steadily increasing and this means more dependence on home care workers to provide around the clock assistance. As home care becomes a higher demand, more jobs are being created. Unfortunately, this job creation does not change the fact that this industry is also highly unvalued. Home care workers are unvalued across the globe because they are increasingly vulnerable to exploited working conditions: long hours, no overtime pay, lacking health insurance and paid sick days and a low income. In order to help build and provide respect and efficiency for all home care workers and their recipients, it will take the help of organizations and individuals to help redefine the healthcare system.

Despite the fact that there is a high demand for home care across the United States, many current home care employees have other part-time jobs to compensate for their low wages and lack of benefits. Home care jobs are also sensitive, challenging, and isolating. Many home care workers are left at the home around the clock with no set breaks or appropriate  time off.

A home care job can may also be described as invaluable because employees are hired without a formal mechanism from prospective employers and there are no real developmental ladders for home care workers to achieve as they gain more experience and want to take other high-paying jobs. There are also no retirement or health benefits for oneself or one’s children. It was stated that “Home care workers need…the opportunity to interact with other home care providers, and benefits and pay that can support their families.”

It hurts even more to know that domestic home care workers are not protected under such initiatives such as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which has excluded home care workers that would have guaranteed them the right to minimum wage. When the FLSA was amended in 1974, Congress included domestic workers-such as maids and cooks, but those providing “companionship,” including those who assisted with home care were excluded from labor protections. Home care workers average less than $10/hr, more than a third cannot afford health insurance, and about half are forced to supplement their earning with food stamps or other welfare services. This results in many turnover rates. Those who are looked after using personal home care assistance also want high quality, undivided support. They believe something should be done in making sure these home care jobs are something people can commit to in the long run without putting their own well-being in jeopardy.

Aside from the inequality that comes from this home care industry, it is refreshing to know that many campaigns support dignity and fair working conditions for home care workers for the elderly and the disabled. Caring Across Generations is a popular national campaign that focuses on the idea of bringing workers together with seniors and people with disabilities to work toward changes that will benefit all of us. Caring Across Generations’ mission statement reads as, “Organizing across generations and communities to bring dignity and value to the contributions of our nation’s aging population and the workforce who cares for them.”

Home care workers deserve access to fair labor protections under the law, and to achieve this, the home care industry needs our support. There also needs to be continued persistence at the federal level, to challenge cutbacks to Medicaid, Medicare and social security which will provide protections and health care affordability to more people including home care workers who do not have access to such benefits now. Caring Across Generations also strives for a push at the federal level by addressing five key issues for health care transformation: home care job creation, home care job quality, home care training and career ladders, pathway to legalization for undocumented workers providing home care, and support for families and individuals who need home care. With unified support and resilience towards challenging and transforming the home care industry, home care workers everywhere will have fair working conditions and labor protections.

To find more information, check out Caring Across Generations or The National Domestic Workers Alliance.

-Latosha

California Governor Vetoes Domestic Workers Bill of Rights

California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights (A.B. 889) on Sunday, September 30th, causing considerable disappointment for the 200,000 housekeepers, childcare providers, and caregivers that the Bill of Rights would have affected. The goal of the legislation was to expand labor rights for domestic workers who have long been excluded from traditional labor protection laws. Domestic workers often face long working hours with poor pay, mistreatment, and lack of job security. To combat these injustices the bill provided overtime pay, breaks for meals and rest, as well as a guarantee of a minimum of eight hours of sleep for live-in workers.

ImageThe California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights was the second of its kind, following similar legislation passed in New York in 2010. Andrea Cristina Mercado, director of the California Domestic Workers Coalition responded to the veto with disappointment, “[w]e believe that great movements create the context for great acts of leadership, and we created this opportunity for Governor Jerry Brown to lead the nation towards progress and equality for a growing workforce of women. And he made a very unfortunate choice.”

Governor Brown made a statement along with his veto, claiming the bill brought up too many “unanswered questions” including issues regarding the extra burden that these protections would place on employers.

The federal government has thus far failed to make real reform on the national level. Despite participating in the International Labor Organization Convention this summer, which established historic rights for domestic workers, it is unlikely the U.S. will ratify the convention at the federal level. This implies that it is the current responsibility of the states to establish rights for those who have been excluded by the Fair Labor Standards Act and the National Labor Relations Act. Unfortunately it appears California is not ready to embrace this challenge.

This veto marks a frustrating conclusion to a three-year long grassroots campaign that mobilized over 8,000 workers. Caitlin Vega, a legislative advocate with the Labor Federation, argued that more than just ensuring a good nights sleep, “the workers had hoped the bill would signal a fundamental shift in the way society regards their work.” Despite the disappointment, domestic workers in California vow to continue the fight, and several other states, including Massachusetts, Illinois, and Hawaii are working on similar pieces of legislation. We can only hope that those attempts will be more successful, and that the legislators in California will continue the fight to establish labor rights for domestic workers.

The battle is far from over, and the National Domestic Workers Alliance is striving to continue the conversation by reminding Governor Brown that “you can veto a bill, but you can’t veto a movement”. The NDWA is taking $5 donations to send Governor Brown sponges to convey the message that he needs to clean up his act. Can you pledge $5.00?

-Emily N.

A Wish for the Holidays: Bringing the Voices of Children to Washington


On Tuesday, September 18th, We Belong Together launched its second “Wish for the Holidays” nation-wide campaign to end detentions and deportations that are tearing families apart. In the United States 5.5 million children live in fear that one or more of their parents will be deported. Last year 5,000 letters were collected, this holiday season We Belong Together hopes to collect 20,000 letters from children across the country and deliver them to members of Congress. The goal is to collect the thoughts of children who share one wish: to keep families together.

In the first six months of 2011, the Obama administration deported 46,000 parents of U.S. citizens, almost one in every four immigrants being deported. While Immigration and Customs Enforcement has set priorities for the removal of individuals with a criminal record and those who have recently arrived in the United States, the agency has failed to implement these priorities within its enforcement practices.

According to an estimate by the Applied Research Center, at least 5,100 U.S. citizen children of deported parents, in 22 states live in foster care. When children enter the foster care system as a result of their parents’ detention or deportation, “immigration enforcement systems erect often-insurmountable barriers to family unity”, as parents are detained, relocated, and deported, often allowing for little contact with their children.

We Belong Together hopes to start a nation-wide conversation on the impact of immigration enforcement on families. The campaign website has a full, age appropriate curriculum for teachers or facilitators to utilize, making it possible for virtually anybody to become part of the movement. By using the experiences of some children, and the solidarity of others, the goal is to convey the critical importance of keeping families together, especially for the holidays.

Do you have ideas for how we can reach children (and their parents and teachers?) to write letters expressing support for family preservation? Would your community group or church be interested in collecting letters from families in support? Please let us know by leaving a message here or emailing us!

-Emily N.

The “Olmstead Decision” 12 Years Later

By Janie Qu, Caring Across Generations Intern 

Twelve years ago this month, the Supreme Court handed down its decision in the seminal case Olmstead v. L.C. The plaintiffs were Lois Curtis (diagnosed with schizophrenia) and Elaine Wilson (diagnosed with a personality disorder). Both women voluntarily admitted to Georgia Regional Hospital at Atlanta (GRH) initially for psychiatric treatment. Although their treatment professionals eventually concluded that both women were fit to leave the hospital and continue treatment in a community-based program, they remained institutionalized at GRH. Seeking rightful placement in community care, Curtis sued state officials. Wilson later joined her suit with an identical claim.[1]

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In a 6-3 vote, the Supreme Court ruled against the state of Georgia and affirmed the right of individuals with disabilities to live in their communities. The Court established that mental illness is a form of disability and therefore covered under the Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Title II of the ADA protects any “qualified person with a disability” from being denied participation in or the benefits of services, programs, or activities of a “public entity,” which includes state and local governments. The Court also declared that unjustified institutional placement of a person with a disability is a form of discrimination and that “confinement in an institution severely diminishes the everyday life activities of individuals.”[2]

At its heart, Olmstead was a triumph for human dignity and a civil rights victory. In fact, the ruling is often referred to as the Brown v. Board of Education of the disability rights movement.  Prior to the 1960s, Americans with disabilities were forced against their will into state-run institutions and nursing homes, often for life, and kept in appalling and inhumane conditions.[3] Olmstead asserted finally that the civil rights of peoples with disabilities are violated when they are unnecessarily segregated from the rest of society. Moreover, Olmstead brought to focus community-based care, which actually saves states an average of $93,000 in Medicaid costs per person with an intellectual disability.[4] However, not all states have been timely in complying with Supreme Court guidelines since the ruling, and as states face budget shortfalls amid the current economy, Medicaid services including community-based care programs are often the first to go.

What surprised me most about Olmstead was that it happened as recently as 1999. It was not until we were on the threshold of the new millennium that the United States Supreme Court ruled that peoples with disabilities have the right against forced institutionalization. To me, it is an important reminder that despite how far we have advanced in our technology and understanding of each other and the world around us, there are still fundamental battles to be fought and their victories carefully protected.

As for the original Olmstead plaintiffs, Lois Curtis now rents her own home and is finally able to able to live a meaningful life, contributing as a member of society through advocacy and art. After winning her right to community-based care, Elaine Wilson enjoyed an active and social life in the community and dedicated herself to advocacy.  Sadly, she passed away in 2004 at 53.

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Olmstead Anniversary Event on Capitol Hill

At the Olmstead Enforcement Update Hearing last week, Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez shared the stirring testimony of a woman whose son benefited directly from Olmstead’s legacy:

“In my view, it is good for all of us to be able to see that people with disabilities are a part of our society and belong to us. We can respect them, admire them, interact with them, have admiration and compassion for some of the challenges they face – and we can be inspired. People with disabilities are part of us – and should not be put in isolation, unseen and unappreciated.”


[1] OLMSTEAD V. L. C. (98-536) 527 U.S. 581 (1999), Cornell University, http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/98-536.ZS.html.

[3] “The Disability Rights and Independent Living Movements,” NCIL, http://www.ncil.org/about/WhatIsIndependentLiving.html.

[4] “Modernize Medicaid to better support people with disabilities”, The Hill, http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/healthcare/169259-modernize-medicaid-to-better-support-people-with-disabilities

Quick News Round Up: Trafficking of Men, VAWA Reauthorization

Our focus at BTCC has always been migrant women workers (particularly household workers), but it’s important to remember that men and boys can be trafficked (for both sex and labor). Here are just a couple of recent stories that caught our attention:

47 Men Trafficked in South Africa

Trafficking by Overseas Military Contractors

In other news, the House is debating the Violence Against Women Act today- with an extremely harmful version of the Bill called the “Adams Bill” (H.R. 4970) which would strip away protections that we have had since the Bill was first passed in 1994. Below is a message from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, urging action TODAY:

Your help is MOST needed if you live in: AZ, AK, CA, CO, FL, GA, IL, IN, IA, MI, NV, NY, NC, OH, PA, PR, SC, TN, TX, VA, WI!

At 10am EST TODAY, May 8th, the House Judiciary Committee will mark up and vote on H.R. 4970, a bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) introduced by Rep. Sandy Adams (R-Fl, 24th).

H.R. 4970 is an anti-victim bill strongly opposed by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) and the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence.  H.R. 4970 weakens vital improvements contained in the recently passed Senate VAWA bill (S. 1925), including provisions designed to increase the safety of Native women and the needs of the LGBT community.  In addition, H.R. 4970 includes damaging provisions that roll back years of progress to protect the safety of immigrant victims. While there are portions of H.R. 4970 that mirror the bi-partisan Senate bill and are supported by the field, we remain opposed to this bill.

We must tell our legislators that we oppose H.R. 4970 and want to see a bipartisan bill that helps ALL victims.  Time is of the essence, we must take action BEFORE 10am EST TODAY!

ACTION: Call/Write/Tweet your Representative on House Judiciary Committee and tell them:

 

We strongly oppose H.R. 4970 and urge you to oppose it.  We support a bill that is closer to H.R. 4271 with improvements, including those provisions in the bi-partisan Senate bill that protects Tribal victims, immigrant victims, LGBTQ victims and other marginalized communities.”

[ORGANIZATIONAL LETTERHEAD]

[May X, 2012]

Dear Representative [Last Name]:

The [organization name], located in [city] which serves more than [X] victims of domestic and/or sexual violence, expresses its strong opposition to H.R. 4970, the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), introduced by Rep. Sandy Adams (R-FL). We stand behind the opinion of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence that this bill will do more to further victimize and disempower people who have experienced these devastating crimes.

H.R. 4970 is an anti-victim bill that weakens vital improvements contained in the recently passed Senate VAWA bill (S. 1925), including provisions designed to increase the safety of Native women and the needs of the LGBT community.  In addition, H.R. 4970 includes damaging provisions that roll back years of progress to protect the safety of immigrant victims.  Consequently, H.R. 4970 will create obstacles for immigrant victims seeking to report crimes, increase danger for immigrant victims by eliminating important confidentiality protections, and will undermine effective anti-fraud protections. While there are portions of H.R. 4970 that mirror the bipartisan Senate bill and are supported by the field, we remain opposed to the bill.

For the past 18 years, VAWA and its subsequent reauthorizations has served as a beacon of hope for victims of domestic and sexual violence.  VAWA is one of the few policies unfettered by partisanship and divided government.  Now is not the time to abandon victims and subject them to re-victimization by making them war casualties.  The House has the opportunity to pass a victim-centered VAWA reauthorization bill that will allocate sufficient resources to hold perpetrators accountable and expand services and protections to all victims.

We strongly oppose H.R. 4970 and urge you to oppose it.  We support a bill that is closer to H.R. 4271 with improvements, including those provisions in the bipartisan Senate bill that protects Tribal victims, immigrant victims, LGBTQ victims and other marginalized communities.  Thank you for your consideration and please do not hesitate to contact me or Tralonne Shorter, Public Policy Advisor for NCADV at (202) 744-8455 if you have any questions or want additional information.

Sincerely,

[Name]

[Title]

cc: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV)

Advocacy and Social Media

If you need more information please visit the National Task Force website for fact sheets, press coverage, support letters and updates at: www.4vawa.org.  The site has been visited more than 25,000 times! For toolkit and other action information please visit and “like” the National Task Force Facebook page: http://on.fb.me/NTF_Facebook_page.

Don’t forget to tweet about VAWA using the hashtags #ReauthorizeVAWA and #VAWA.

If you aren’t on one of the VAWA email lists or want to add members of your staff or state/community leaders to our grassroots alerts e-mailing list, send names and contact information including email to Sean Black, sblack@icasa.org.

If you have additional questions, please contact publicpolicy@ncadv.org.

Thank you for everything you do!

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