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Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. WATERS. Today, I stand with my Democratic colleagues and victims of domestic violence across our Nation in strong opposition to the H.R. 4970, the House Republican alternative to Violence Against Women Reauthorization bill. This bill severely undermines vital protections available to victims of violence and places these victims in danger of continued abuse.

Since its enactment in 1994, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has a long history of uniting lawmakers with the common purpose of protecting survivors of domestic violence. Each year across this Nation, thousands of women, children, and men who fall victim to domestic violence, human trafficking, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking no longer have to live in fear because of important victim protections under this law. This Republican alternative bill threatens to dismantle this progress by deliberately placing domestic violence victims from LGBT, immigrant, tribal and other marginalized communities in harm's way.

While my Republican colleagues may think many of these discarded provisions are unnecessary, there is ample proof that they are sadly mistaken. Just last year, cases of LGBT domestic violence had increased by 38 percent. Of those who sought help, 44 percent of LGBT victims were turned away from traditional shelters. As for Tribal victims, Native American women face the highest rate of domestic violence in the U.S.--three and a half times higher than the national average. Proposed changes to current VAWA protections for immigrant survivors create an even larger obstacle for immigrant victims seeking to report crimes and increase the danger to immigrant victims by eliminating important confidentiality protections. These changes threaten to undermine current anti-fraud protections in place while rolling back decades of Congress's progress and commitments towards the protection of vulnerable immigrant victims.

Let's be clear, VAWA should not be used as a vehicle to pass immigration policy measures that are not germane to its purpose. VAWA has always been focused on protecting victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and trafficking and this should not change. In just one day, over 5,363 victims and their children receive services at domestic violence programs in California. On that same day, however, over 924 requests for services go unmet, largely due to lack of resources. This alone is proof that we need to expand the VAWA's programs and services and not eliminate them.

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