With all of the War on Women meme going on right now, the Senate Democrats are trying to speed through the reauthorization process for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Because what decent person doesn’t want to stop violence against women? That’s like saying you hate puppies or ice cream. It just doesn’t make any sense.
Republicans trying to stall VAWA are bound to come off looking like jerks. Why do you hate womyn, Mitch McConnell? Why won’t you help these poor battered ladies escape their abusers, Chuck Grassley? What is wrong with you guys?
There’s nothing wrong with Republican Senators that don’t support VAWA, there’s something wrong with the legislation. Originally passed in 1994, the act has had bipartisan support through two 6-year reauthorizations, but this time around it contains new provisions and fails to protect against potential fraud and abuse.
The new legislation, sponsored by Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, would create 5,000 additional “U-visas,” which are awarded to both legal and illegal immigrants who aid in criminal investigations. Except that people who apply for these visas don’t actually have to ever assist law enforcement. So an immigrant facing deportation could just apply for a U-visa. What does that have to do with helping battered women?
Another section of the bill invites marriage fraud. Most everyone knows that the quickest route to American citizenship is to marry an American citizen ... heck, they've made movies based on this “marriage of convenience” premise. Normally, the foreign spouse has to rely on their American partner to file the paperwork, but in cases of abuse, the petitioner may file for themselves with a VAWA Self-Petition. I’d like to think that no one would ever falsely claim to be abused in order to get a visa, but it’s a well-documented fact that sometimes people suck.
There is also over $600,000 in grants in the bill, which is not adequately tracked by the Government Accountability Office to determine effectiveness of VAWA programs. In other words, no one really knows where that money is going or what’s being done with it.
Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley introduced a version of the bill that addresses these concerns, but the Democrats rejected it. Apparently they don’t want to help abused women unless they can also open up ample opportunities for fraud and abuse.
Now who’s waging a War on Women?
Image via katmeresin/Flickr