The House of Representatives on Wednesday turned its back on a bipartisan, Senate-passed version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Instead, by a 222-205 vote, lawmakers passed a five-year renewal of VAWA known as H.R. 4970.
LIRS sounded the alarm about H.R. 4970 several times on this blog and in other media outlets, from Sojourners to RH Reality Check to La Opinion. We raised multiple concerns about H.R. 4970 provisions that deny vulnerable immigrants many of the very protections first created by VAWA, and even help perpetrate the abuse from which they are seeking to escape. These concerns also prompted LIRS and a broad cross-section of other faith leaders and organizations to send a strongly worded letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH-8) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-8).
We also asked you, our readers, to register your concerns about H.R. 4970 with your Members of Congress. While we didn’t prevail in this vote, we’re grateful for the critical support that you gave to the 205 Democrat and Republican Representatives who had the courage to vote against H.R. 4970.
Were your voices heard? Emphatically, “Yes.” On the floor of the House of Representatives, no less. Check out this video (around 4:00) of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. She mentions the concerns of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, citing LIRS by name. Top lawmakers like Congresswoman Pelosi are unlikely to make such statements unless they hear – loud and clear – from constituents.
Once again, thank you for making your voices heard! While we did not win this round, we know that a commitment to Stand for Welcome can mean unflagging efforts. We also know that the immigrant and refugee families we struggle to protect are the last to give up, and the first to benefit from your strong support.
Please stay tuned as we hone in on next steps in the fight to protect immigrant victims of violence in the VAWA reauthorization and other crucial votes! If you haven’t already, please subscribe to this blog to get alerts delivered to your mailbox. That way, you’ll get important updates in time to raise your voice before the next critical vote.