I’m thrilled to report that the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), long a subject of LIRS advocacy, this afternoon was passed by the House of Representatives!
Congratulations to everyone, in every organization, who put their hearts into making this happen!
I’m particularly excited by the strong bipartisan support VAWA received, and by the bill’s inclusion of a reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPRA).
This is a victory for immigrants and a positive sign that lawmakers from both parties can indeed act quickly. The bill includes improvements on protections for immigrant victims of violence that LIRS has long advocated for, along with further protections for children and victims of trafficking, which are hallmarks of LIRS’s advocacy and service.
Here’s how events unfolded: The House voted down its own “substitute” VAWA bill, then voted on the Senate–passed bipartisan version of the bill, S. 47, which Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) introduced on January 22. The Senate passed S. 47 with 78 votes on February 12. The final House vote today on the Senate bill was 286 in favor and 138 against, with 8 not voting. A total of 87 Republicans and 199 Democrats voted for the bill.
Since Congress passed VAWA in 1994, this landmark piece of legislation has protected thousands of survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault while improving enforcement measures and prosecution of the perpetrators of these crimes. VAWA protects migrant survivors of violent crimes who assist law enforcement efforts by making such survivors eligible for the U visa. The protections offered by the U visa have allowed thousands of immigrant survivors to aid in the prosecution of violent criminals, creating safer communities throughout the nation.
We’re very excited that the bill that passed includes reauthorization of the TVPRA, because it represents much-needed legislation to improve U.S. laws that combat trafficking and to ensure that victims or those at risk of being trafficked receive proper services and support.
LIRS recognizes the significant challenges that child victims face, particularly when they are separated from their parents and family. The TVPRA allows certain children who have been victims of serious crimes to access a federal foster care program. Instead of releasing vulnerable children who have no one to care for them onto the streets, the bill allows a small number of children every year to access this program, which is tailored to meet their specific needs.
Once again, congratulations to all the people and organizations who’ve worked so hard over the years to make sure a strong VAWA is out there to protect women!