Feb. 28, 2013 NEWS RELEASE — VAWA Passes in House of Representatives; LIRS Hails Strong Bipartisan Support

Bill’s Inclusion of Reauthorization of Trafficking Victims Protection Act a Huge Victory

Press Contact: Jon Pattee
202-591-5778, jpattee@lirs.org

WASHINGTON, DC Feb. 28, 2013 — Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) is heartened by the strong bipartisan support received by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that passed today in the House of Representatives, and particularly welcomes 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,” said LIRS President and CEO Linda Hartke. “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.”

“VAWA has always been bipartisan, and we are happy to see it pass with such a large margin of bipartisan support,” added Hartke.

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 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,” said Hartke.

“LIRS recognizes the significant challenges that child victims face, particularly when they are separated from their parents and family,” added Hartke. “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.”

LIRS is nationally recognized for its leadership advocating on behalf of refugees, asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, immigrants in detention, families fractured by migration and other vulnerable populations, and for providing services to migrants through over 60 grassroots legal and social service partners across the United States.