National Immigration Forum

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Evangelical and Faith Leaders Urge Congress to Protect All Battered Women and Children

May 07, 2012

Washington, D.C. — The House Judiciary Committee is expected to vote Tuesday on H.R. 4970, the House version of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The bill, sponsored by Rep. Sandy Adams (R-FL), would dramatically roll back important protections for immigrant women, thus leaving them more vulnerable to abuse. More than 20 faith leaders from the Evangelical, Catholic, Lutheran and other faith-based communities sent a letter to Congress expressing their opposition to provisions in H.R. 4970 that negatively impact immigrant women and children who are victims of abuse. The following is a statement by Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum.

The protection of women and children from abuse should not be held hostage to partisan politics. The numbers are distressing; one in four women in America experience domestic violence or sexual assault, and up to 60 percent of men who abuse their wives also frequently abuse their children. Immigrant women are at even higher risk because immigration status becomes one more weapon abusers use to control victims. When women cannot call the police if they or their children are being abused for fear of immigration consequences, our system of justice and law enforcement has failed.

Faith leaders including Leith Anderson of the National Association of Evangelicals and Lynne Hybels, co-founder of Willow Creek Community Church, as well as faith-based organizations such as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service and World Relief, are urging Congress to stand up for what is right and preserve and improve protections for vulnerable victims — no matter where they were born.

The faith leaders’ joint letter, sent today to the House Judiciary Committee, explained how “faith communities are on the front lines,” providing direct, essential services for women and children who are suffering at the hands of abusers. Many victims rely on the support and moral guidance of their faith community during times of crisis. Religious organizations see firsthand the importance of continuing to provide a lifeline to immigrant survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking.

We praise the leadership of these communities of faith calling on Congress to find its moral compass and not let partisanship stand in the way of protecting all women and their families from harm. House leadership must not remove important safeguards for vulnerable immigrant victims in the Violence Against Women Act.

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To read the letter from faith leaders and faith-based organizations to the House Judiciary Committee please visit: http://tinyurl.com/VAWAEvang.

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