Congresswoman Schakowsky delivered these remarks on a call with reporters and others last week. Her comments are reprinted here with permission.
I want to thank the National Immigrant Justice Center and the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence for organizing this very important call this morning.
I appreciate the particular focus on the VAWA provisions that protect battered immigrant women – one of the most vulnerable of the vulnerable populations in our country.
Ensuring that immigrant women are able to leave their abusers and aren’t forced to stay because of threats of deportation, or because they are afraid to come out of the shadows has been a long-time focus of mine.
During past VAWA reauthorizations, I have gotten provisions to stop the deportation of eligible immigrant victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and trafficking included, as well as a provision to allow battered immigrant self-petitioners to receive their lawful permanent residency status in the U.S. without having to travel abroad.
I have introduced – along with Representative Judy Chu – the Violence Against Immigrant Women Act (H.R. 5331). Our bill would streamline the processing of VAWA cases and make adjustments to help victims escape from their abusers and overcome the effects of victimization. Our bill would ensure greater numbers of immigrant victims of domestic violence and sexual assault receive U visa protection, and it would allow victims of stalking, elder abuse, and child abuse to access these important protections. It would also require DHS to issue employment authorization to victims in timely manner. Because of delays, the majority of immigrant victims who have filed valid cases are forced to wait more than six months for work authorization, some can wait as long as a year.