GOP Leaders, Adams Cave on VAWA Immigration Provisions
Caving to the demands of special interest groups, last night the House Rules Committee adopted an amendment offered by Rep. Sandy Adams, the House author of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA), that weakens several key immigration provisions in the original bill.
As introduced, H.R. 4970would have taken steps to make the U visa a true non-immigrant visa. First, the original bill would have removed a provision from federal law that allows U visa holders to obtain legal permanent residency after three years, per the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Second, it would have prevented U visa holders from extending the temporary four-year visa period by an additional four-years. (See H.R. 4970 § 806 as introduced) (To read more about the U Visa, see FAIR's Policy Statement)
Unfortunately, over the weekend, House leadership changed course and decided to strip these provisions from the bill. According to news reports, House Leadership quietly invited outside groups — including the National Organization for Women and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence — to the Capitol last weekend to develop the amendment package and win their support. (Politico, May 15, 2012)
This manager's amendment was introduced by Rep. Adams and subsequently adopted in the House Rules Committee Tuesday night. (See House Rules Committee Website) As amended, the bill now provides that U visa holders will receive a green card if the offenders are aliens, are convicted, and are deported to the visa holder's home country. Moreover, the amended bill reinstates a provision allowing aliens under the U visa program to extend their visa while waiting for a green card.
The amendment also weakens safeguards in the original bill to protect against fraud by lowering the standard of evidence required to demonstrate an alien was a victim before the government can cancel an order of removal against them and grant them a green card. (See H.R. 4970 § 801)
In another blow to true immigration reformers, the Rules Committee voted against allowing the bill to be amended on the House floor.
The House intends to vote on the legislation this afternoon. (See House Floor Schedule)