By Pat Reuss and Bonnie Grabenhofer
The last election and the current session of Congress have been a bit discouraging so it’s especially welcome when we can share a success story of how NOW took action which then led to a victory. You may have heard about the harmful immigration provisions that some members in the House and Senate tried to attach to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding bill. This tactic ultimately failed – but not without a great deal of effort.
NOW is a member of the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence that sent letters to the Senate and House warning Members about the harmful immigration provisions attached to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding bill. The House had combined the DHS bill with a provision to defund (and in effect reverse) the President’s recent Executive Order regarding the status of immigrant families in our country, and in the Senate a bill proposed by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) would have added harmful immigration provisions which would:
- Negate important Executive actions including support for programs to help reduce immigrants’ vulnerability to abuse and exploitation, allowing them to come out of the shadows and feel free to access help if they are being mistreated or abused.
- Deny the Executive Order’s provision that would provide opportunities for immigrant victims of sexual and domestic violence to be able to work, giving them the economic resources to recover from, and escape abuse.
- Curb the Secure Communities Program which is vital to making local law enforcement agencies a safe place for victims to seek help from abuse, without fear of being deported.
In a very close Senate vote last week, the move to debate the Collins bill to add harmful immigration provisions to DHS funding was defeated, in part due to the letter and calls from NOW members in targeted states. In the House on Tuesday of last week, the DHS funding bill was passed without the immigration tag-along and we think the calls and letters played a part. Good work everyone!
Copies of the letters can be found at www.4vawa.org.
Despite this success, we are still far from achieving true justice for immigrant women and families. NOW will continue its efforts to work with coalition partners to achieve comprehensive immigration reform, because until all of us are free, none of us can be free.