Strengthening the Violence Against Women Act Protects U.S. Citizens
By Harry Crouch
September 14, 2012
In a recent POLITICO opinion piece, Weakening the Violence Against Women Act Betrays Immigrant Victims, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler appeal to congressional leaders to pass the Senate version of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, S. 1925. They state, “All women who have lived through violence and abuse should have the certainty that the law will protect them — no matter their race, creed, color, and religion or immigration status. Unfortunately, Congress is now considering proposals that would erode this certainty — and its failure to act is already causing harm.”
Sadly, it appears Shurtleff and Gansler believe that the accused are guilty and only women need protection. The words alleged and men never appear in their appeal. Regardless of real abuse or gender, immigrants alleging domestic violence apply to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service for legal status and eventual citizenship. Many make false allegations against their U.S. citizen partner to reap those and other benefits associated with being a “domestic violence victim”.
Amazingly, under S. 1925, these accused citizens have no legal standing to refute the allegations or restore their good name. In addition, they suffer harmful consequences in related legal proceedings. In effect, they have no rights to defend against such allegations. The wrongly accused are often left destitute, penniless, convicted of crimes they did not commit, imprisoned, unemployed, and otherwise ruined to the point of mayhem, murder, or suicide. They are the true victims.
Unfortunately, by removing fundamental due process protections, the Senate version of VAWA would continue to facilitate false accusations and wrongful U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service application determinations. Congress must incorporate provisions into VAWA that protect falsely accused citizens, such as requiring prosecutors that receive VAWA funding to certify that they will uphold and enforce laws designed to curb perjury and false swearing.
If you believe that immigrants should have more protections than our citizens should, follow the appeal of Shurtleff and Gansler. However, if you believe citizens should have at least the same protection as non-citizens, then support the House version of the VAWA, H.R. 4970, sponsored by Rep. Sandy Adams. She was a police officer and DV survivor. She believes in due process and understands the domestic violence issue from first-hand experience.
VAWA must be strengthened to assure that all persons who have lived through violence and abuse have certainty that the law will protect them – no matter their sex, creed, color, religion, or citizenship status. Fortunately, Congress is now considering proposals that would strengthen this certainty — and its failure to act is already causing harm, which betrays all of us…