Sacrificing the Violence Against Women Act in order to prevent protecting immigrant women

In recent years, more and more Immigration Courts in the Unites States have been granting political asylum to women who are victims of domestic violence and can’t get protection in their own countries. This is not really news (it was covered in these pages a couple years), but the issue seems to have raised a bit of a ruckus in the hallowed halls of the U.S. Senate recently.

Like most bills, the U.S. Federal Violence Against Women Act of 1994 needs to reauthorized every now and again in order to fund its various activities. Activities the bill funds generally are along the lines of domestic violence prevention programs and provision of forensic “rape kits” to ensure that proper evidence is collected following sexual assaults. During the reauthorization process a few edits can be made. This year’s reauthorization almost didn’t make it out of committee when all Republican Senators on the Judiciary Committee voted to keep it from a vote on the Senate floor. What was the problem? From today’s New York Times Editorial page:

The main sticking points seemed to be language in the bill to ensure that victims are not denied services because they are gay or transgender and a provision that would modestly expand the availability of special visas for undocumented immigrants who are victims of domestic violence .

Senators on the Judiciary Committee were evidently willing to sacrifice protections for all women in order to prevent protections for battered undocumented immigrant women. The bill made it through committee, and now it will go to the floor. Think this is over?

Mustering the 60 votes needed to get the bill through the full Senate will not be easy, even though previous reauthorizations were approved by unanimous consent. Recalcitrant Republicans should be made to explain to voters why they refuse to get behind the federal fight against domestic violence and sexual assaults.

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