New York, NY -- (SBWIRE) -- 05/11/2012 -- Voice of American Immigration Fraud Victims is appreciative and supportive of the vote in the House Judiciary Committee on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization (VAWA) of 2012 (H.R. 4970). We feel it is a step forward in protecting the rights of true victims of abuse, while also protecting the rights of citizens that have been falsely accused of domestic violence.
Our group was formed in 2008 in response to similar problems members experienced while being married to immigrants. In each case, the immigrant spouse made false allegations of abuse against the citizen spouse. While not every member encountered the same degree of problems as a result of these false allegations, we were all shocked at how few rights we had as American citizens. While we understand the need to protect battered immigrants, the rights of citizens should not be overlooked in doing so.
The current immigration provisions of VAWA prevent immigration law from being used by an abusive citizen or LPR spouse as a tool to prevent an abused immigrant spouse from reporting abuse or leaving the abusive relationship. These safeguards assume that the immigrant spouse is indeed abused by the citizen spouse. What these safeguards fail to consider is the possibility that the immigrant spouse is being untruthful. VAWA provides NO safeguards to prevent or even deter an immigrant spouse from lying about spousal abuse. In fact, VAWA provides almost unconditional legal and political immunity to any person who claims abuse regardless of his/her legal status, previous criminal activities, or personal agenda for coming to the U.S. Under the cover of this immunity, VAWA facilitates these immigrants to become new citizens of the U.S. by fraudulent means.
Advocates of the current immigration provisions in VAWA will point out that the citizen spouse is not directly impacted by VAWA when an immigrant spouse files an I-360 based on spousal abuse. What the advocates fail to consider are the indirect consequences of the filing. Based on the false allegations of abuse by an immigrant spouse, the following may and have occurred to the citizen spouse: arrest; loss of parental rights; loss of home; loss of reliable transportation; loss of job; loss of security clearance; loss of friendships; depression; financial hardship; bankruptcy; the list goes on and on. The lives of citizens are being ruined for an immigrant to have an easier path to a permanent green card.
The most fundamental principle of the American criminal justice system is the right to due process. Under VAWA immigration provisions, an American citizen accused of partner abuse has no legal standing to refute the claims of the immigrant spouse with the US government. In fact, the accused may not have even been informed of the allegation! Safeguards need to be added so true abuse victims are protected without taking away the rights of an alleged abuser. Due process includes providing every American citizen the opportunity to refute a false allegation of spousal abuse, wherever that claim may be made.
We feel that the H.R. 4970 introduced by Representative Sandy Adams of Florida addresses the concerns that we have. We thank her, Representative Lamar Smith, and their Republican colleagues that voted in support of it, for taking a courageous stand for what is fair and right, and not just casting a vote for what is considered to be politically correct.