In the wake of a border crisis created by the Trump administration’s so-called zero-tolerance immigration policy, Republicans in the House introduced two “compromise bills” that would codify the Trump administration’s anti-woman immigration policies that leave domestic violence survivors seeking asylum without recourse. Feminist organizations and anti-violence activists have joined together to denounce both pieces of legislation—and they’re calling on their members to demand the same from their Representatives.
Republicans in the House introduced two pieces of legislation last week that they claimed would solve the previous immigration crisis brought on by the Trump administration: chaos and confusion for DACA recipients, who have been left fearing deportation and uncertain of their legal status over the last year. Instead, the bills effectively attempted to leverage the lives of families torn apart at the border to provide funding for his multi-billion dollar border wall and reinforce his xenophobic policies denounced by the UN Human Rights Chief.
“I never thought I would see the day when children are literally used as pawns for a pointless, wasteful, racist wall,” Eleanor Smeal, Feminist Majority President, said at a press conference Wednesday. “It’s a disgrace and it must end today.” FM is asking members to reach out to their Senators and Representatives and encourage them to reject compromise bills on immigration and instead support bills like Dianne Feinstein’s Keep Families Together Act.
HR 6136, introduced by House Speaker Paul Ryan and better known as the “Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2018,” codifies the Trump administration’s discriminatory policies toward domestic violence survivors crossing the border. The legislation expands definitions of domestic violence to broaden its use as a basis for deportation, but fails to make exceptions for survivors who use violence against abusers and cuts away at deportation protections for minors fleeing sexual and domestic violence and abuse; it also discourages immigrant survivors from coming forward by encouraging local law enforcement officials to work with ICE. According to the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, HR 6136 will likely cut the number of asylum seekers fleeing gender-based violence in half through provisions that increase the standard of proof upon them during the application process—meaning many more survivors will be deported without an opportunity to articulate their case. It also excludes potential DREAMERS with certain domestic violence and child abuse convictions from accessing a new “contingent visa.”
HR 4760, introduced by Representative Bob Goodlatte’s (R-VA) and called the “Securing America’s Future Act of 2018,” furthers these attacks on immigrant survivors. His legislation restricts those in the U.S. on temporary work visas from filing civil action suits against their employers, even if they’re sexually assaulted or harassed at work. HR 4760 also prevents those abused by drug traffickers from entering the country if they’re also related to their abusers, and curtails abused and neglected children’s access to Special Immigrant Juvenile status.
The California Coalition Against Sexual Assault sent an email this week calling on members to demand that their representative reject both immigration measures before the House. “By changing the law to facilitate the quick deportations of asylum seekers and make it harder to apply for asylum,” the group explained, “victims fleeing sexual and domestic violence and other forms of gender-based violence, who could articulate a genuine fear of persecution will be deported anyway without the chance to collect evidence or present witnesses before a judge.”
Both bills before the House come on the heels of a decision by Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week that ended a policy allowing victims of gang and domestic violence to seek asylum in the U.S.—and sparked outrage among feminist leaders and activists.
“Our clients are dependent on our justice system to grant them protections from severe crimes that originated in the United States, like gang violence that inflicts extreme abuse on women such as rape and murder,” Vania Llovera, Assistant Director of Florida State University’s Center for the Advancement of Human Rights, told the Feminist Newswire. “Now this administration is turning its back on victims and closing their doors to life.”