Telemundo interviewed Lilián Medina, Vice President of Mil Mujeres.
On February 28 the House passed the House passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization. A week later, on March 7, President Barack Obama on thursday signed the renewal of the act. Lilián Medina, Vice President of Mil Mujeres, was interviewed by Telemundo to share some insights about VAWA and its benefits. Below you can read a transcript of the report.
Obama: Because of this bill, they will continue to have access to all the services that Joe [Biden] first helped to establish 19 years ago - the national hotline and network of shelters and protection orders that carry across state lines - and because of this bill, we are also expanding housing assistance so that no woman has to choose between a violent home and no home at all.
Reporter: After months of debate in Congress, the VAWA renewal for the first time includes protection for same-sex couples and members of Indian tribes.
Yenny Medina: People who are in a relationship with a person of the same sex and are victims of domestic violence are also included within the definition of domestic violence in terms of the protection and benefits offered by this law.
Reporter:: Although, according to a report released recently by the Department of Justice, the rate of sexual abuse of women and girls over 12 years was reduced by 64% in the past decade and has remained stable over the past five years, thousands of immigrant women continue to suffer in silence for fear of being deported.
Yenny Medina: Through this law these women are protected and should not be afraid to report the crime. On the contrary, instead of causing themselves trouble through making a police report, they could receive the great benefit of legal status in this country.
Reporter: Additionally, the new version of this law authorizes $ 659 million annually over the next five years for prevention programs include measures to combat human trafficking and help children who are victims of sex trafficking.
You can check the video of the interview here.
Good news: The House passed VAWA reauthorization
We are happy to share that on February 28 the House passed Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization. What is next? The bill was sent to the President to sign.
This could not have been possible without a strong coalition of advocates and we are proud to be part of it!
In a bipartisan vote of 286 to 138 the Violence Against Women Act was reauthorized. This means that the legislation has been improved and now VAWA will be more inclusive, for all victims of violence, including gay men and lesbians.
As stated by Obama: “Renewing this bill is an important step toward making sure no one in America is forced to live in fear.”
If you want to share your thoughts, the National Task to End Sexual and Domestic Violence against women is organizing a call to action to thank your Representatives and Senators for supporting a historic bill. You can join this campaign here.
An ongoing battle: VAWA Reauthorization
On January 23, 2013 the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was reintroduced both in the House and in the Senate. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Michael Crapo (R-ID) introduced S. 47., a strong, bipartisan bill that would reauthorize the landmark. The bill would improve VAWA programs and strengthen protections for all victims of violence.
But the battle is still ongoing. This is why the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women is making a call to action, by encouraging people to contact their Senators. The goal is to get 60 co-sponsors by January 31st so that VAWA can get to the Senate floor for a bipartisan victory. If you want to help, please read more here.
S. 47 does not create any new immigration remedies but only makes the following modest, yet important, improvements to VAWA immigration protections already in current law. Below, some of the proposed changes included in the VAWA Reauthorization Act of 2013:
● Enhancing protections for tribal, LGBT and immigrant victims.
● Adding “stalking” to the list of crimes covered by the U visa
● Clarifying that when victims of a qualifying crime, who cooperate in the investigation or prosecution of that crime, file for a U visa that includes their children under 21 years old, the children will not age out during the process. Instead, the child will be able to receive the immigration benefits of the U-visa along with their parent, even if the child turns 21 before the final adjudication, in order to keep families together.
Read more in this VAWA immigration fact sheet please click
U-Visa applicants and their children: Why USCIS should eliminate the legal limbo for derivatives.
U-Visa applicants and their children: Why USCIS should eliminate the legal limbo for derivatives.
There has been been some legal issues surrounding the fate of children derivatives of U-visa applicants and whether or not they "age-out" (turn 21) while the application is pending. Immigration has been putting these applications on hold while they work out the regulations. On January 10, 76 organizations, including Mil Mujeres, sent USCIS their comments on how these regulations should be set in order to best help these derivative children.
We believe that the proposed regulations will provide important protections for U visa derivatives who age out while their U visa application is being processed by USCIS. This will guarantee much needed security for immigrant crime victims and their families. However, there are still important issues that remain unaddressed, and there is room for improvement and clarification.
We urge USCIS to issue final guidance that provides protection for all aged- out derivatives: both in the U.S. and abroad, those who aged out while the U-1s principal application was pending and those who aged-out after its approval. We appreciate the work USCIS has done on this issue, and are committing to working with USCIS to work towards policies that protect victims and their families.
Below you can find a summary of the main recommendations related to the USCIS’s policy memo “Age-Out Protection for Derivative U Nonimmigrant Status Holders: Pending Petitions, Initial Approvals, and Extension of Status.”
1) The U visa Age-Out Guidance and the new regulations should dictate that the age (and other relevant aspects of derivative status) are established at time the U-1 principal files
Children (and their parents) have no control over getting older; thus, USCIS’ speed in reviewing claims now determines whether U-3 children will be considered eligible for status or deemed removable. This inherently arbitrary result undermines the goal of the law. Often the reason victims of domestic violence ultimately report the crimes against them is to protect their children. If a victim can’t know that children will at least be considered for status if he or she files while they are still children, the U application becomes much less helpful to them and to law enforcement. Congress cannot have intended a “crapshoot” for this vulnerable population. By failing to provide predictable protection for victims’ children, the current policy discourages victims from accessing safety and justice, undermining the U visa’s usefulness as a tool for law enforcement.
2) The U visa Age-Out Guidance should provide additional protections to applicants who turn 21 while the principal’s U visa application is pending
Currently, there are no guidelines on how USCIS will perform the case-by-case review. In the past, we have submitted requests for deferred action status for U-3 derivatives who have aged out and have obtained inconsistent results: some were granted deferred action and others received no decision at all. The current process is confusing, unpredictable and unfair, harming victims of crimes and their families. As noted above, it is not the fault of the applicant that the processing times are extremely long and USCIS did not make a decision on a timely-filed application prior to the derivative turning 21 years of age.
3)USCIS must address and fix problems for U derivatives who age-out while abroad.
While the U visa Age-Out Guidance addresses derivative children in the United States, it does not provide any additional clarification for those children who are living abroad. Rather than issuing the Guidance with further clarification for USCIS and/or the Department of State, USCIS instead places all responsibility on the derivative applicant to “schedul[e] an appointment with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate to apply for his or her U visa and of entering the United States in U nonimmigrant status before reaching 21 years of age.”
The Guidance provides for differential treatment of applicants who turn 21, based solely on
whether they are currently in the United States or abroad: children who age out after filing but are in the US have a chance of gaining status; those who age out while abroad are per se
ineligible because they cannot receive deferred action. While USCIS is working on the pending regulations, it should expedite applications by derivatives abroad and establish a swift and clear humanitarian parole process for bringing in those who present prima facie cases but who have aged out due to no fault of their own. USCIS and State should treat derivatives abroad the same way they treat derivatives in the US.
Children living abroad should not face a higher barrier than those already in the US, including additional delays posed by Department of State and consulate delays in processing. For all the reasons stated here and above, the age of the child is considered at the time of filing, not at the time of adjudication of the U visa application and/or admission to the U.S.
If you want to read the full comments, please click
The Washington Center in cooperation with Mil Mujeres developed the Immigration Rights Project. During the fall 2012, students from all over the United States and Latin American countries volunteered to give immigration rights presentations to the Latino community.
News Anchor: October is month against domestic violence. Lilian Mass explains how to fight against this epidemic and about the benefits that victim can receive.
Narrator: Every 9 seconds a woman is beaten or abused in the United States. Of these, three or more die each day at the hands of their partners, according to the domestic violence center for statistics . Because of this, the month of October is dedicated to raise awareness about this problem.
Ana Garcia - Ayuda: An abusive relationship starts with psychological abuse, intimidation perhaps, jealousy, isolation, and then it might reach the point of physical or sexual abuse.
Narrator: As was the case of Esmeralda, who tired of the abuse of her husband and made the call that changed her life and looked for help.
Esmeralda: I have had therapy and have come out emotionally better. Now, I feel fine and I am doing well.
Narrator: Now her husband is in deportation proceedings and she is applying for the benefits this country provides to victims of domestic violence, such as the VAWA and U visas - the U Visa being the most popular.
Mark Haufrect - Mil Mujeres: There is no requirement to be married to the abuser, the abuser does not have to have legal status. They can be completely undocumented, but if victims report the crime of domestic violence and continue cooperating with the police, with the authorities, then they qualify for the U visa.
Narrator: But he warns that with the absence of a complaint to the authorities, there is no way to prove the abuse.
Lilian Mass: But according to this coalition, it is necessary to recognize the existence of another type of violence - a violence that goes beyond what we are used to seeing. They refer to institutional violence.
Narrator: According to them, this kind of violence is the fear induced by programs such as the Secure Communities program, which can cause victims of domestic violence to keep quiet because they do not want to risk their continued presence in this country.
Dilcia Molina - Clínica del Pueblo: This is one of the major obstacles, which has been erected by the institutions of this country - a form of governmental violence, of institutional violence.
Narrator: Not only does it put victims’ lives at risk, it prevents many from becoming eligible to apply for the visas offered by the government.
Mark Haufrect - Mil Mujeres: Victims often come and ask for help, and when they have never called the police or had contact with the police, we can’t help them.
Narrator: Because of that, they suggest seeking help with human rights organizations or with community support centers in your area. If you are suffering from any kind of violence you can seek help by calling 1-800-799-7233