President Obama signs Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization into Law

March 08, 2013
Minsky, McCormick & Hallagan

On March 7, 2013, President Obama signed the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization into law at a signing ceremony at the White House.  The President was joined by Vice President Joe Biden, who was the original author of VAWA, and many others.

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was first passed in 1994, and since has been reauthorized in 2000, 2005, and now 2013.  On February 26, 2013, the US Senate passed a bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.  You can read the MMHPC blog post here. Next, the bill went to the US House of Representatives, where on February 28, 2013, the same Senate bill passed the House with broad bipartisan support: 286 voting in favor and 138 voting against the bill. Prior to passing the Senate’s version, the House voted against a restrictive version of VAWA.

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was first passed in 1994, with the purpose of increasing protections for targets of violence against women—including domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. VAWA has various provisions that specifically address gender-related violence against immigrants.  Immigrant victims of domestic violence, who have an abusive US citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or parent, to leave those abusive relationships by obtaining immigration relief independent of that spouse or parent, through a process called “self-petitioning.”  Immigrant victims of violent crime who cooperate with law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of that crime may apply for what are known as U visas, and immigrant victims of sexual assault or trafficking may apply for what are known as T visas.  The 2013 Reauthorization includes expanded protections and covers more victims of gender-related violence, such as LBTQ and Native American women.

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