Photo By Chaz Loredo

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has created headlines yet again. This time when it is up for re-authorization, it comes with a rider, where there is a proposed rollback of rollback protection for immigrant women and children who are victims of abuse in different forms. The Shah Peerally Law Group PC registers its protest against this proposition which can affect thousands of women, men and children who are already going through mental pressures or those likely to face such a situation in the future.

Quite in contrast to the Senate passing a reauthorization of (S. 1925), that reiterates the protection to those who fall under the problem areas like human trafficking,  sexual assault, rape, and such other crimes, the bill in the House might act in the opposite direction. In the past the VAWA has shown support for the cause of those individuals who have been facing domestic violence, from abusive spouses and the law clearly stated that those immigrants with abusive spouses could file a self-petition for a green card. Indicating that such sufferers need not be dependent on the abusive spouse for legal status. Quite similarly, it has also had the option of giving U visas to the victims of such crimes, who have co-operated with the authorities in investigating crime.

Quite in contrast to years of protection offered to Immigrants, the H.R. 4970 Bill introduced by Rep. Sandy Adams, which is up for reauthorization, has the following short comings-

The House will likely take up H.R. 4970, introduced by Rep. Sandy Adams (R-FL).  While the details are still being worked out, the House bill appears intent on rolling back years of VAWA protections for immigrants.  The House bill:

  • It puts victims to larger penalties for perjury or misrepresentation. This includes including expedited removal.
  • It does not allow for any additional U visas.
  • It has asked for higher standards that U visa applications must meet. Including clauses for further cooperation with law enforcement.
  • It allows alleged abusers to showcase their side of the story as also submit evidence to the USCIS adjudicators for the same.
  • It asks for moving the adjudication of VAWA cases from the specialized adjudication unit in Vermont to the local offices.

Though in contrast to this the Senate bill provides much more flexibility by allowing up to 5,000 additional U visas, protections for minor children of self-petitioners who die before the petition is completed, adds “stalking” to the list of criminal activities, gives greater protection for fiancées or fiancés on K visas from a potentially abusive marriage, provides that children of the applicants of U visas will be covered in their parent’s application for visa if they turn 21 before the application process is over and some others. But the Senate bill has included a provision that might be potentially harmful for Immigrants. Senator Grassley (R-IA) has added that a third drunk driving (DUI) conviction an “aggravated felony”. This means that the immigrant might be subject to deportation and denial of any benefits.

The VAWA is an important piece of legislation that should be made free from petty battles over immigration issues.  The Shah Peerally Law Group PC hopes that like previous years where the Congress has been able to take a stand on the protection of immigrants, this year too they will not disappoint the Immigrant community.


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Shah Peerally is an attorney licensed in California practicing immigration law and debt settlement. He has featured as an expert legal analyst for many TV networks such as NDTV, Times Now and Sitarree TV. Articles about Shah Peerally and his work have appeared on newspapers such as San Jose Mercury News, Oakland Tribune, US Fiji Times, Mauritius Le Quotidien, Movers & Shakers and other prominent international newspapers. His work has been commended by Congress women Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Lee. He has a weekly radio show on KLOK 1170AM and frequently participates in legal clinics in churches, temples and mosques. His law group, Shah Peerally Law Group, has represented clients all over the United States constantly dealing with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Immigration and Custom Enforcement(ICE) and CBP (Customs Border Patrol (CBP) under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This department was formerly known as the Immigration and Nationality Services (INS).