A May 4 article in the Huffington Post begins as follows:
"The House Republican version of the new Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) would dramatically roll back confidentiality protections for abused immigrant women, make it more difficult for undocumented witnesses to work with law enforcement officials and eliminate a pathway to citizenship for witnesses who cooperate with police on criminal cases."
According to the same article, women in the US without permission but married to abusive legal residents or US citizens would no longer be able to self-petition for permanent residence at the USCIS Vermont Service Center, which has staff members specially trained in domestic violence situation and where extreme precautions are taken to protect confidentiality. Instead, they would have to petition at the nearest immigration office, where untrained officers would be allowed to inform that abusive partner that the victim is applying for legal immigration status.
This provision is breathtaking in its cynicism and cruelty. Almost every immigration and matrimonial lawyer knows how afraid many women are to report the fact that they have been victims of violence to the police, even if they are US citizens or permanent residents.
The House bill would also limit the time to report abuse to 60-days in order to receive immigration protection - a totally unrealistic limitation considering that many immigrant women do not even know about VAWA , or only find out about its protection after they are placed in deportation proceedings.
The House bill also drastically cuts back U visa immigration protections for unauthorized immigrants who cooperate with law enforcement authorities in investigating crimes. This is what the party of "family values" and "law and order" has in store for America - severely weakening, if not completely removing, protections against domestic violence and crime for unauthorized immigrants.
This is obviously part of the larger "attrition" strategy that the Republicans have adopted in order to make life so intolerable for immigrants who are in the country without permission that they will "self=deport", in the words of their almost certain presidential candidate, Mitt Romney. It is also part of the larger Republican war on women, including attempts to defund Planned Parenthood, regulate abortion clinics out of existence, require medically unnecessary and invasive ultra-sound tests for women seeking abortions and even ban the use of birth control pills.
The Republicans are doing everything in their power to present themselves as the party of hate as part of their coalition of bigots and billionaires. Everyone who cares about immigrant rights should also be involved in speaking out and opposing all other attempts to use prejudice to win elections. These attempts are all part of the same despicable picture, whether directed against immigrants, women, gays, Muslims, or whomever.
None of this excuses the Obama administration for also appealing or caving into prejudice by deporting record numbers of immigrants the old fashioned way - hounding them, raiding them and their employers, locking them up and kicking them out in record numbers. Morally, this puts the president and the Democrats who support him in the same rat hole along with the Republicans.
Roger Algase is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been practicing business immigration law in New York City for more than 20 years.