call on congress to protect immigrant survivors of domestic violence

I just read this op-ed piece by attorneys Betty M. Song and Amy Woo Lee, who urge Congress to pass a version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that fully protects immigrant women who fall victim to domestic violence: Congress needs to save immigrant women from harm.

They tell the story of Joon, one of their clients at the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, and one of thousands of undocumented domestic violence victims. Fortunately, she was able to find protection and a pathway to citizenship through the U visa law, which is part of VAWA:
Joon came to the United States from Korea because her longtime boyfriend promised to marry her if she joined him. Instead, he repeatedly abused her.

Joon tried to end the relationship, but her abuser took advantage of the fact that Joon was not familiar with U.S. laws and threatened to take their child if she refused to meet him one last time.

It was during this final encounter that he tried to sexually assault her in the presence of their baby. She attempted to fight him off, while he severely beat her.

Joon managed to escape and called the police. She bravely stood up against her abuser and cooperated with the police and district attorney in the criminal case against her former boyfriend.

But Joon then had to face another threat: as an undocumented immigrant, she was in danger of deportation. Fortunately, she qualified for legal status under the U visa law, which is part of the Violence Against Women Act. The U visa created a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrant victims of crime who cooperate with law enforcement. Through the U visa, Joon was ultimately able to receive legal permanent residency status, and she aims to become a U.S. citizen.
In April, with the Violence Against Women Act up for renewal, the Senate passed a bill that retains protections for undocumented immigrant survivors of domestic violence. But the House passed a different version of the bill, one that rolls back these safeguards. Congress needs to reconcile these differences.

If you want to support and make your voice heard about this issue, here's an online petition calling on Congress to work together and pass the reauthorization of VAWA that protects immigrant surivivors of domestic violence: Tell Congress to ACT NOW and PASS the Reauthorization of VAWA.

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