Legislation would allow immigrants who are victims of domestic abuse to apply for independent immigration status even if their spouse only has a temporary visa

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced legislation to protect immigrant victims of domestic violence. Currently, immigrants who are victims of domestic violence are able to petition for independent legal status under the Violence Against Women Act, but only if they are spouses of U.S. citizens or permanent residents. The Protecting Immigrant Victims of Domestic Violence Act would expand this protection to spouses who entered the U.S. on a temporary visa. The legislation is cosponsored by Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Kamala Harris (D-CA).

“No one should be forced to stay in an abusive relationship because they’re afraid to lose their legal status,” Klobuchar said. “This legislation will encourage victims to come forward so they can receive the assistance they need instead of remaining trapped in a cycle of abuse and fear.”

As a former prosecutor, Klobuchar has long championed victims of sexual assault and has been outspoken about the need to protect immigrant victims of domestic abuse. In May, Klobuchar sent a letter urging Attorney General Sessions to maintain protections in current law for immigrant victims of domestic violence seeking asylum in the United States. Klobuchar introduced similar legislation to the Protecting Immigrant Victims of Domestic Violence Act in 2013 as an amendment to the comprehensive immigration reform legislation, which was adopted in the Senate Judiciary Committee with a bipartisan and unanimous vote and passed the full Senate.

Klobuchar also authored legislation to keep guns out of the hands of stalkers and protect dating partners from gun violence. The Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act would help close what is commonly referred to as the ‘boyfriend loophole’ by preventing people who have abused dating partners from buying or owning firearms. The bill would also prevent convicted stalkers from possessing a gun—common sense updates to federal law which many states have already adopted.