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Prof. Newman on Implications of House Version of Violence Against Women Act

June 11, 2012

In a post for “Long Island Wins,” an organizing campaign designed to engage Long Islanders in finding sound solutions to immigration issues, Professor Alizabeth Newman exposes efforts by the House of Representative to eliminate critical provisions from their version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Specifically, the House bill, called the Adams bill or H.R. 4970, would eliminate a provision protecting the confidentiality of victims of domestic violence who have the courage to come forward under VAWA. “Prior to the confidentiality regulations, women were petrified for themselves and their families if there was any chance of the abuser finding out that they had revealed the secrets of the abuse. Witnesses who were family, friends or neighbors of the abuser would never come forward if there were a chance the abuser would find out. Removing the confidentiality provisions would render the bill useless and would present a danger to self-petitioners,” explains Professor Newman in her post.

In addition, the Adams bill would eliminate a provision that allowed U Visa holders from obtaining legal permanent status at the end of cooperating with law enforcement and the prosecution of abusers. The U Visa “provided protection and relief to victims who assist law enforcement with the investigation or prosecution of crime,” notes Newman. This provision provided security for a “victim willing to take the risk to cooperate with the prosecution,” she added. The Senate version, she said, does not include these “toxic provisions” and encouraged advocates to reach out to Congress in support of these critical provisions.

Alizabeth Newman is a law school instructor and the director of immigrant initiatives at CUNY Law where she focuses on innovative models for collaboration with immigrant community organizations. Newman has worked for almost two decades advocating for the rights of immigrants and has been active in educating legal and immigrant communities on immigration law, with emphasis on unique protections for battered immigrant women. Newman was the founder and initial director of SEPA Mujer, Servicios Para El Avance De La Mujer, (Services for the Advancement of Women), a community based organization offering to Latina immigrant women legal rights education, leadership development, and legal representation for survivors of domestic abuse. She has established CLE trainings on the Violence Against Women Act for local attorneys and law students and has lectured extensively at bar associations, law schools, and national and local conferences.

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