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Mr. GENE GREEN of Texas. Madam Speaker, I rise in opposition to H.R. 4970, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2012. The Violence Against Women Act, VAWA, has been instrumental in protecting women from domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking. Domestic violence often has devastating consequences for women, their families, and society as a whole.
VAWA provides essential grants including educational programs for the prevention of domestic violence in schools, battered women's shelters, a national domestic violence hotline, grants to improve law enforcement and prosecution of violent crimes against women, among others. It also provides much needed services for the protection of children from maltreatment, sexual assault, and domestic violence.
A manager's amendment was offered to address some immigrant protection issues with H.R. 4970, but did very little to change the original bill. H.R. 4970 would change the requirements for abused immigrant spouses of U.S. citizens and permanent residents by imposing a higher standard of proof than required for asylum applications, and by allowing government adjudicators to break confidentiality and interview an accused abuser. The revised bill would only prohibit basing decisions exclusively on the information provided by the abusive spouse. The bill would also decrease protections for immigrant victims by undermining the U visa program, which allows an immigrant victim of a serious crime to stay in the U.S. to assist law enforcement in investigating and prosecuting the crime. The manager's amendment only provides a small portion of victims the opportunity to adjust their legal status after their U visa expires. Battered immigrant spouses would be less likely to report abuse if they could still be deported and their abusive spouses would be made aware they are trying to seek help.
H.R. 4970 ignores improving the safety of co-ed students on college campuses. Provisions to strengthen requirements for universities to report on how they address sexual violence on campus, were removed from the bill. If college campuses are not protected from sexual harassment, assault, or violence; students will not be able to learn and could potentially miss out on true educational opportunities.
The bill would not restore Native American tribal courts' jurisdiction over crimes of domestic violence or dating violence committed on reservations and tribal lands in cases where the victim is a tribal member but the defendant is not. Those cases currently fall outside the jurisdiction of both tribal and state courts and are rarely prosecuted on the federal level.
I believe it is important to provide preventative domestic violence programs as well as help those who have been affected by domestic violence with programs that can help them recover and protect them in the future. Many of the domestic violence programs that we have today would not be able to continue without the reauthorization of VAWA. H.R. 4970 mitigates VAWA's 18-year history and abandons many victims of domestic and sexual violence.
As a supporter of VAWA from the beginning, I urge all my colleagues to oppose H.R. 4970 and to vote on a bill that would allow these much needed programs and services to continue so that we may work to stop domestic violence.
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