Fox News is decrying the inclusion of needed provisions in the Violence Against Women Act that would protect immigrants, Native Americans, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered individuals from domestic abuse. Critics contend that not extending these protections would render victims more vulnerable to domestic violence.
Fox Mocked Enhanced Protections In Violence Against Women Act
Jon Scott: “Why Not Just Pass The Simpler House Version?” After outlining the dispute over the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act -- including noting that the House Republican version of the bill does not include protections for immigrants, LGBTQ individuals, and Native Americans -- Fox News anchor Jon Scott asked: “Why not just pass the simpler House version?” [Fox News, Happening Now, 5/16/12]
Scott: “This Isn't The Violence Against Men Act. ... It's The Violence Against Women Act.” After Fox News contributor Santita Jackson said that it's “particularly cruel” for Republicans to exclude LGBTQ individuals from the act, including gay men, Scott stated: “Well, but this isn't the Violence Against Men Act. ... It's the Violence Against Women Act.” [Fox News, Happening Now, 5/16/12]
Angela McGlowan: New Provisions Are Aimed At “Getting Out The Vote” In Gay, Latino Communities. Fox News contributor Angela McGlowan claimed the new provisions were just a “getting out the vote” operation:
McGLOWAN: It has nothing to do with violence against women. It has to do with getting out the vote in the gay community, getting out vote in the Latino community and getting the vote for women. And the bottom line is, you have a Machiavellian president that cares more about winning re-election than preventing domestic abuse. So I think it's sad and I think a lot of folks here in Washington, D.C., are playing politics.
McGLOWAN: Votes by any means necessary, by any means necessary, by bending people to his way so why not use Violence Against Women Act to bring on gays and lesbians and bisexuals and undocumented workers?
McGLOWAN: It started out as the Violence Against Women Act -- violence against women. It has nothing to do with undocumented workers, Native Americans, nor gays and lesbians. [Fox News, Happening Now, 5/16/12]
Scott: Protecting Undocumented Immigrants From Domestic Abuse Would “Create A Real Slippery Slope ... To All Kinds Of Other Laws.” Scott said:
SCOTT: Specifically with reference to the protections that the Senate wants to put in there for illegal immigrants. One of the arguments is that if you suddenly establish legal protections for illegal -- you know, people who are here illegally, you have created a real slippery slope. I mean that, you know, potentially could apply to all kinds of other laws. [Fox News, Happening Now, 5/16/12]
McGlowan: Protecting Undocumented Immigrants From Domestic Abuse Is “Amnesty.” McGlowan said:
McGLOWAN: Violence is illegal. Violence, Jon, is illegal, but how can you protect people who are in this country illegally, who are already breaking the law, protect them with another law? Jon is exactly right. It sets up a slippery slope. So basically what they want is amnesty. [Fox News, Happening Now, 5/16/12]
McGlowan: Including Native Americans In Act Means Democrats “Want Tribal Law Now To Impact American Citizens.” McGlowan said that the authors of the Senate version of the bill “want to impact tribal law, which from each Native American tribe, differs. So you want tribal law now to impact American citizens, and that's not right.” [Fox News, Happening Now, 5/16/12]
VAWA “Has Been The Single Most Effective Federal Effort” To Stop Domestic Violence
American Bar Association Official: “VAWA has Been The Single Most Effective Federal Effort” Against Domestic Violence. Debbie Segal, who chairs the American Bar Association Commission on Domestic & Sexual Violence, said of the act:
“VAWA has been the single most effective federal effort to respond to the epidemic of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking in this country.”
The act has ensured that “legal and social services are available to survivors, and that law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, attorneys and advocates are well-trained with cutting-edge resources to effectively address these crimes in their own communities.” [American Bar Association Journal, 1/1/12]
Since VAWA's Enactment, Domestic Violence Against Women Has Fallen By More Than Half. From the Bureau of Justice Statistics:
The rate of intimate partner violence against females declined 53% between 1993 and 2008, from 9.4 victimizations per 1,000 females age 12 or older to 4.3 per 1,000. [Bureau of Justice Statistics, 10/23/09]
The Number Of Women Killed By Intimate Partners Dropped By 26 Percent Between 1993 And 2007. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, “females were killed by intimate partners at twice the rate of males.” But after the Violence Against Women Act was passed, those numbers were reduced:
The overall rate of female homicides fell 43% from 4.18 to 2.38 homicides per 100,000 female U.S. residents between 1993 and 2007.
The rate of intimate partner homicides of females decreased 35% (from 1.66 to 1.07 per 100,000 female U.S. residents), while the rate of non-intimate female homicide fell 48% (from 2.52 to 1.31). [Bureau of Justice Statistics, 10/23/09]
Domestic Violence Against Men Also Declined After VAWA Was Enacted. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, between 1993 and 2008:
Against males, the rate declined 54%, from 1.8 victimizations per 1,000 males age 12 or older to 0.8 per 1,000.
Homicide victims killed by intimate partners fell 29%, with a greater decline for males (-36%) than females (-26%).
Between 1993 and 2007 the overall rate of male homicides fell 40% from 14.94 to 8.94 homicides per 100,000 male U.S. residents.
The rate of intimate partner homicides of males decreased 46% ... while the rate of non-intimate male homicides fell 40%. [Bureau of Justice Statistics, 10/23/09]
Fox Gets The Facts Wrong On Senate Version Of VAWA
Violence Against Women Act “Has Always Included Protections For Immigrant Survivors Of Domestic Violence.” According to the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women, the Senate version of the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization bill:
[C]ontains a small number of modest amendments to already existing provisions established through past bipartisan bills, to ensure that these protections actually work as intended.
VAWA has always included protections for immigrant survivors of domestic violence. “Self-petitioning” for battered immigrant spouses of US citizens and permanent residents was created in VAWA 1994, for example, and the U visa (for victims of violent crimes) and T visa (for human trafficking victims) were created in VAWA 2000. This longstanding inclusion shows that domestic violence is a serious crime and a public safety issue that cannot be fully addressed if all victims are not safe, and all perpetrators are not held accountable. In addition, these provisions are considered an important tool for law enforcement. [National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women, accessed 5/16/12]
Senate Version Helps Clear Up Barriers LGBTQ Victims Face When Seeking Help. From the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women:
LGBTQ survivors of domestic violence, sexual violence, stalking and dating violence are already receiving services under VAWA. However, LGBTQ survivors face additional barriers when accessing services. The proposed changes help make clear to STOP state administrators and others the LGBTQ individual and programs can be served and funded under VAWA. [National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women, accessed 5/16/12]
Native American Provision Does Not Grant Tribal Authority To Prosecute Americans. According to the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women, the tribal provision in the bill “in no way alters” the jurisdiction of states over non-Native American crimes committed on reservations. The provision also:
is limited to only crimes of domestic violence or dating violence committed in Indian country where the defendant is a spouse or established intimate partner of a tribal member. It does not permit tribal prosecutions unless the defendant has “sufficient ties to the Indian tribe,” meaning he/she must either reside in the Indian country of the prosecuting tribe, be employed in the Indian country of the prosecuting tribe, or be the spouse or intimate partner of a member of the prosecuting tribe. [National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women, accessed 5/16/12]
Immigrants, LGBTQ Individuals, And Native Americans Are Just As Adversely Affected By Domestic Violence
Immigrants Are Highly Vulnerable To Domestic And Sexual Violence. From the Immigration Policy Center:
Female immigrants are more likely to work in the informal labor market as domestic workers and caretakers and are less able to assert their rights or to be protected under current laws. Immigrant women workers are also vulnerable to rape, sexual abuse and harassment, or other gender-motivated exploitation in the workplace. Some immigrant women are brought to the United States through human trafficking networks and are forced to work under conditions of surveillance, threats of deportation, and physical harm.
In addition, both legal and unauthorized immigrant women may face challenges related to domestic violence, especially if their immigration status depends on an abusive spouse.
Finally, immigrant women may be fearful of reporting abuse or exploitation to the police for fear that they will be deported and separated from their families, effectively providing abusers with a tool to silence their victims. [Immigration Policy Center, 5/7/12]
LGBTQ Victims Suffer Domestic Violence At Similar Rate Of General Population, But Are Denied Services. According to the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women, LGBTQ individuals suffer domestic and sexual violence at “approximately the same rate as non-LGBTQ victims” but face barriers for getting help:
LGBT victims are denied services. For example, 45 percent of LGBT victims were turned away when they sought help from a domestic violence shelter, according to a 2010 survey, and nearly 55 percent of those who sought protection orders were denied them. [National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women, accessed 5/16/12]
Native American Women “Experience The Highest Rate Of Violence Of Any Group In The United States.” From the National Organization for Women:
Native American women experience the highest rate of violence of any group in the United States. A report released by the Department of Justice, American Indians and Crime, found that Native American women suffer violent crime at a rate three and a half times greater than the national average. National researchers estimate that this number is actually much higher than has been captured by statistics; according to the Department of Justice over 70% of sexual assaults are never reported.
In addition to domestic abuse, Native American women also experience the highest levels of sexual and domestic abuse of any group. A report from the American Indian Women's Chemical Health Project found that three-fourths of Native American women have experienced some type of sexual assault in their lives. However, most remain silent due to cultural barriers, a high level of mistrust for white dominated agencies, fear of familial alienation, and a history of inactivity by state and tribal agencies to prosecute crimes committed against them. [National Organization for Women, accessed 5/16/12]
Associated Press: “Often Domestic And Dating Violence [In Tribal Communities] Steadily Worsens If The Abuser ... Goes Unpunished Until The Victim Is Seriously Wounded Or Killed.” From the Associated Press:
A recent Census report found about 77 percent of people living on Native American and Alaska Native areas are non-Indian. About half of Native American women are married to non-Indians, according to the Justice Department.
Although the federal government has authority to prosecute domestic violence involving non-Indians, the cases often are not priorities, said John Harte, who has been lobbying in support of the provisions on behalf of Native American tribes. He said that in 2007, the Salt River Pima, Ariz., tribal police responded to more than 400 acts of domestic violence, many involving nontribe members. That same year U.S. attorneys prosecuted only 21 misdemeanor crimes on Indian lands across the country, Harte said.
Another law gave some states all federal prosecution powers held by the federal government over non-Indians. The law originated in the 1950s as the country was enacting “termination policies” to assimilate tribes into the broader society and do away with reservations and tribes themselves, according to the Justice Department.
Though some local officials have good working relationships with tribes, the isolation of tribal lands and the lack of resources -- states don't collect taxes within Indian Country -- usually mean misdemeanor domestic and dating violence take a back seat. Often domestic and dating violence steadily worsens if the abuser is goes unpunished until the victim is seriously wounded or killed.
“Is it working on the ground? The answer is no,” said Terri Henry, a tribal council representative for Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in Charlotte, N.C.
The legislation also grants defendants the right to counsel if they can't afford an attorney, an impartial jury that includes non-Indians and a right to appeal. Non-Indian defendants would have the same rights in tribal courts as they have in state courts, according to the Justice Department. [Associated Press, 5/14/12]
House Republican Bill Omits Needed Protections For Abused Groups
House GOP Bill Removes Protections For Immigrants, LGBTQ Victims, And Native Americans. From The Hill:
The House bill, H.R. 4970, does not include Senate language prohibiting discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people under the law, does not go as far as a Senate bill to protect Native Americans and makes it harder for illegal immigrant victims of domestic abuse to stay in the United States. But Republicans said on the floor that the concept in their bill is that all Americans deserve equal protection under the law.
“I just become so distressed when I hear the allegations that there is a war on women,” Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-N.Y.) said. “When we sat down, when we began discussing VAWA, we sat down with the understanding that Americans deserve equal protection under the law. We are not going to single out, we are not going to distinguish one victim from another. Any woman, any person I should say, who is a victim of domestic violence is a victim of domestic violence, and beyond that it should be of no concern.”
Buerkle added that the manager's amendment to the bill makes some of the changes that Democrats have said should be made. But that was not enough to persuade Democrats, and one Republican said she wished these changes could be made.
“I see no reason to exclude these provisions from the House bill,” Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.) said. [The Hill, 5/16/12]
GOP Bill Actually “Creates Obstacles” For Immigrant Victims. The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women found that H.R. 4970 will “create obstacles for immigrant victims seeking to report crimes, increase the danger to immigrant victims by eliminating important confidentiality protections, undermine current anti-fraud protections, and roll back years of progress and commitment on the part of Congress to protect vulnerable immigrant victims.” [National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women, accessed 5/16/12]
Human Rights Watch: House Bill Imposes “Stricter Standard Of Proof” For Abused Immigrant Women “Than Required For Asylum Applications.” According to Human Rights Watch:
The bill would undermine the law and expose immigrant women and families to abuse, Human Rights Watch said. The House Judiciary Committee on May 8, 2012 approved a version that makes multiple changes to VAWA's existing provisions addressing immigrant victims of domestic and sexual violence.
The Adams bill proposes sweeping changes to existing legal protections for immigrant victims of sexual and domestic violence, Human Rights Watch said. The bill would change the requirements for applications for immigration status for abused immigrant spouses of US citizens and permanent residents. These changes include imposing a stricter standard of proof than required for asylum applications and allowing government adjudicators to break confidentiality and interview an accused abuser about the spouse's immigration application.
The Adams bill further erodes protections for immigrant victims of violence by undermining the U visa program, Human Rights Watch said. The U visa is a temporary visa allowing an immigrant victim of a serious crime to stay in the US to assist law enforcement in investigating and prosecuting the crime. The Adams bill provides that crime victims awarded a U visa would no longer be eligible for permanent residency after the temporary visa expires. The prospect of eventual deportation would provide abusers with leverage to keep victims in violent relationships and inhibit victim cooperation with law enforcement, Human Rights Watch said. [Human Rights Watch, 5/9/12]
Civil Rights Activist: “House Proposal Endangers Victims And Perpetuates Further Abuse.” Gabe Gonzalez, the national campaign director for Campaign for Community Change, wrote:
[F]or people like these Republicans, immigrant women, if they don't have papers, are not worthy of protection, are not worthy of help. In fact, these women would be put in further danger of abuse under their bill, HR 4970.
The House proposal endangers victims and perpetuates further abuse. It would even allow abusive partners in domestic violence cases to provide input as to whether their victim should qualify for immigration relief. Abusers who could have adjusted the immigration status of their spouse and chose not to as a tool of abuse and fear will be in a position to block the victim's access to this critical remedy for battered immigrants. Informing and allowing alleged abusers to provide input in these cases puts victims at risk of retaliation. [Fox News Latino, 5/15/12]
Numerous Republicans, Law Enforcement, Religious Organizations Oppose House Bill
Sen. Lisa Murkowski Supports Senate Version Of Violence Against Women Act. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) added her name to a letter from several other senators urging House Republicans to pass the Senate version of the bill. [The Washington Post, The Plum Line, 5/16/12]
Rep. Judy Biggert: “I See No Reason To Exclude These Provisions From The House Bill.” Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL) said during a vote on the Violence Against Women Act, “I see no reason to exclude these provisions from the House bill.” [The Hill, 5/16/12]
Catholic, Evangelical, And Other Religious Organizations Oppose House GOP Version Of Bill. From a blog post by Eric Sigmon of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service:
Despite strong bipartisan support in the Senate earlier this year for VAWA legislation that included a handful of protections for immigrant victims, HR 4970, the House of Representatives' version of the VAWA bill, would roll back provisions in the law that protect battered immigrant women and men.
The House bill would actually leave immigrants more vulnerable -- and in some cases - endanger their lives.
To raise our deep concerns with the House bill's immigration provisions, we partnered with a broad coalition of faith-based organizations and religious leaders, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Association of Evangelicals, the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and the United Methodist Church, to send a letter to Congress.
If the House of Representatives were to pass H.R. 4970, it would dishonor our nation's legacy of protecting the most vulnerable, undermine progress towards shielding victims from their abusers, and unravel nearly two decades of strong support for protecting immigrant victims of violence. [RH Reality Check, 5/14/12]
Law Enforcement Officials: House Bill “Will Turn Back The Clock On Over Seventeen Years' Of Progress” By Law Enforcement In Reducing Violence Against Women And Children. In a letter voicing opposition to the House bill, police officials stated that “several of the provisions in HR 4970 eliminate longstanding protections for immigrant victims of domestic violence, child abuse, rape and sexual assault which will undermine our work as police officers in successfully apprehending criminals.” The letter continued:
Some key components of effective policing will be jeopardized by these proposed provisions. Police departments depend on information gained from the community, including victims of crime. Several provisions in this bill diminish the safety of the victim and this in turn will cause such individual to be less likely to report domestic violence, rape, sexual assault and other crimes. The police have worked very hard to build trust between themselves and the communities they protect, especially immigrant communities. We need the community to be involved in order to keep the community safe. We need the eyes and ears of everybody to participate. If victims don't feel safe reporting, they will not identify perpetrators. And for every crime of domestic violence, child abuse, rape, sexual assault, or trafficking that goes unreported, there is one more serious criminal not being apprehended.
If this bill is passed, it will turn back the clock on over seventeen years' of progress made by law enforcement in reducing violence against women and children in our communities because it will discourage immigrant victims from coming forward. [House Committee On The Judiciary, 5/7/12]
More Than 300 Organizations And Professionals Are Opposed To GOP House Bill. A list from the Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee shows that 325 organizations and professionals have signed a letter opposing the House GOP version of the Violence Against Women Act. [House.gov, accessed 5/16/12]