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Rep. Sandy Adams
Rep. Sandy Adams (R-FL) was once abused herself.
Now, she wants to take protections from undocumented
women. (Official photo)

It was bad enough that Republicans in the House, and many in the Senate, openly opposed the bipartisan reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in part because of a provision that expands the small number of visas available to undocumented immigrant women. These special visas are necessary because in some cases, an abuser who is a citizen or legal resident will hold a woman's immigration status hostage to keep her trapped in an abusive relationship. Currently, these women are able to confidentially apply for protected status. But it turns out that the House version of the Violence Against Women Act would not only fail to expand the number of such visas available, it would eviscerate confidentiality protections.

Currently, women applying for this special protected immigrant status go to specially trained immigration officers who understand the dangers abused women face and the importance of confidentiality.

The Republican bill would eliminate that confidentiality and require women to go to the closest immigration office. It would allow the officer, not specifically trained in domestic violence response, to reach out to and inform the abusive partner that the alleged victim is applying for immigration status.
Not only that, but the standard of proof for abused women would be higher than for undocumented immigrants seeking asylum for other reasons, and there would be a 60-day statute of limitations, so a woman who began the process of getting away from her abuser and only later learned about this program would not qualify for a visa. Unless she went back for one more beating, I guess.

Just when you think you've gotten cynical enough that even today's Republican can't shock you, they pull something like this. Telling a man (or woman) who is using their partner's immigration status as a tool of abuse that the partner is trying to get out of the abusive situation is a recipe for heightened violence, one that could easily kill.

Republicans, of course, say they're concerned about fraud. Apparently, to them, the slim chance that a woman would claim to be in love with an American, be sponsored over here, and then claim abuse fraudulently but convincingly enough to persuade trained immigration officers to give her one of just 10,000 or 15,000 special visas is more important than the risk of telling an abuser that his especially vulnerable victim is trying to get away from him. It's not just a war on women. It's a war on logic. Also decency.

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Fri May 04, 2012 at 02:20 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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