The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorized by Congress Wednesday removes protections for immigrant women who are victims of violence. Some faith leaders, including National Association of Evangelicals president Leith Anderson, oppose stripping away provisions that could aid mail-order brides and other immigrants. Other evangelical groups, including Concerned Women for America, want the act scrapped altogether.
Many women come to the U.S. on visas because they are married to a U.S. citizen. But if a wife leaves the husband because of violence in the home, she risks being deported. The act allows women to confidentially petition for a special "U visa" that will allow them to remain in the country as permanent residents.
The new act passed by the House would eliminate a woman's confidentiality—a husband would now be interviewed after his wife has filed for the visa to verify her accusations against him. The standards for granting special visas are stricter under the House bill. The legislation also discourages plea bargaining, which will result in more victims being forced to face abusers in the court room.
Leaders from Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, World Relief, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, Sojourners, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, the World Evangelical Alliance, the Christian Community Development Association, the NAE, and other prominent faith-based groups sent an open letter to Congress opposing the new provisions.
"Through our ministry with victims, we have learned that abusers often exploit a victim's immigration status, leaving individuals extremely vulnerable and afraid to report the abuse to law enforcement, assist in the prosecution ...