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) reintroduced legislation to protect immigrant victims of domestic violence. Currently, immigrants who experience domestic violence are able to petition for independent legal status under the Violence Against Women Act only if their spouse is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The Protecting Immigrant Victims of Domestic Violence Act would expand this protection to people whose spouses entered the U.S. on a temporary visa. The legislation is cosponsored by Senators Chris Coons (D-DE), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI).
“We need to ensure all domestic violence victims who are immigrants can petition for independent legal status,” said Senator Klobuchar. “No one should be forced to stay in an abusive relationship because they’re afraid they may be deported. This legislation will protect victims so they can come forward and receive the support they need.”
The bill is supported by ASISTA, Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence, Futures Without Violence, National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence, National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, International League of Advocates, South Asian Bar Association of North America, South Asian Bar Association Foundation, Immigration Center for Women & Children, Violence Free Minnesota, Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Manavi, Maitri, Daya, Sakhi for South Asian Women, South Asian Network, Her Justice, Inc., Raksha Inc., and Apna Ghar, Inc. (Our Home).
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. 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.
In April, Klobuchar led a letter to U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services (USCIS) to ensure immigrant survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, and other serious crimes could continue to access programs during the coronavirus pandemic through which they obtain legal status independent of abusers and perpetrators.
Klobuchar also authored legislation to reform training for sexual assault investigations and protect dating partners from gun violence.
- The Abby Honold Act would promote the use of trauma-informed, evidence-based techniques by law enforcement when responding to sexual assault crimes.
- 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.