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ADDITIONAL  RECOMMENDATIONS  BY  LEADING  NATIONAL  EXPERTS  TO   ADDRESS  VIOLENCE  AGAINST  WOMEN  IN   COMPREHENSIVE  IMMIGRATION  REFORM

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April  8,  2013     In  addition  to  the  key  legislative  reforms  urged  in  “Priority  Recommendations  by  Leading  National  Experts  to   Address   Violence   Against   Women   in   Comprehensive   Immigration   Reform,”   Congress   can   further   protect   immigrant   survivors   of   domestic   violence,   sexual   assault,   human   trafficking,   and   other   gender-­‐based   abuses   in  the  following  ways:       Ensure   uniformity   in   Violence   Against   Women   Act   (VAWA)   cancellation   of   removal   cases   by   clarifying   eligibility.   Two  interpretations  of  the  current  statute  by  Immigration  Judges  are  resulting  in  the  deportation  of   immigrant  survivors  of  domestic  violence  that  Congress  intended  to  protect.    Congress  can  fix  this  in  two  ways:     (1)   by   making   clear   that   “extreme   cruelty”   is   a   legal   concept   encompassing   well-­‐recognized   forms   of   non-­‐ physical  abuse,  not  an  issue  for  judges  to  decide  based  on  personal  views  or  experience,  or  a  lack  of  education   on   domestic   violence   and   (2)   by   making   disqualifications   when   applying   for   VAWA   cancellation   the   same   as   (not   stricter   than)   the   disqualifications   that   apply   generally   for   10-­‐year   cancellation.   These   fixes   should   help   ensure  that  survivors  are  more  fully  protected  under  law.       Enhance   protections   for   VAWA   Self-­‐Petitioners.     Survivors   who   have   suffered   extensive   abuse   by   their   abusive  LPR  or  USC  spouses  are  sometimes  not  able  to  receive  immigration  benefits  because  of  immigration   violations  in  the  past  that  are  often  related  to  the  abuse.    For  this  reason,  Congress  should  strengthen  VAWA   protections   in   three   areas:   1)   Cancel   reinstatement   of   removal   against   individuals   otherwise   protected   by   VAWA;  2)  Modify  the  waiver  for  the  permanent  bar  to  recognize  the  range  of  circumstances  facing  victims  of   abuse  and  exploitation;  and  3)  Create  a  waiver  from  deportation  for  petitioners  for  SIJS  or  VAWA-­‐related  relief   who  have  made  false  claims  to  US  citizenship.     Enhance  protections,  or  remove  other  obstacles  to  accessing  VAWA/T/U  protections,  by:    
 

Eliminating   the   “on   account   of   grounds”   required   for   the   adjudication   of   T   visa   applications,   to   enable  more  human  trafficking  victims  to  find  protection  in  the  United  States  (the  T  visa,  created  by   Congress  in  2000,  has  been  vastly  under-­‐utilized;  while  5,000  are  available  each  year,  only  about  600   have  been  issued  in  any  year).    
 

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Waiving   the   2-­‐year   foreign   residency   requirement   for   J   visa   exchange   holders   who   are   otherwise   eligible  to  apply  for  VAWAs/Ts/Us,  permitting  them  to  apply  and  be  granted  from  within  the  U.S.  
 

Allowing   visa   waiver   entrants   in   removal   proceedings   to   apply   for   VAWA/T/U/SIJS   or   other   humanitarian  immigration  relief  for  vulnerable  or  victimized  immigrants.  
 

Strengthening  protections  for  abused  fiancé(e)s  who  entered  on  K1  visas,  by  allowing  them  to  access   VAWA  self-­‐petitioning  regardless  of  whether  the  US  citizen  fiancé  (e)  marries  him  or  her  within  90  days   of  the  immigrant  fiance(é)’s  entry  into  the  U.S.        

  *These  recommendations  are  endorsed  by  a  national  committee  of  leading  experts  on  existing  protections  –  and  protection  gaps  –  in  US  laws   affecting   refugee   and   immigrant   women   survivors   of   domestic   violence,   sexual   assault,   human   trafficking,   and   gender-­‐based   persecution,   including   ASISTA  Immigration  Assistance,   Casa   de   Esperanza:   National   Latin@  Network  for   Healthy   Families   and   Communities,   The   Center  for   Gender  and  Refugee  Studies,   The  Coalition  to  Abolish  Slavery  and  Trafficking  (CAST),  National   Immigrant   Justice  Center,  National  Immigration   Project   of   the   National   Lawyers   Guild,   the   Tahirih   Justice   Center   and   the   Washington   State   Coalition   Against   Domestic   Violence.   For   more   information   or   to   meet   to   discuss   these   priorities   and   proposals,   please   contact   Cecelia   Levin,   ASISTA   Immigration   Assistance   (cecelia@asistahelp.org)  or  Jeanne  Smoot,  Tahirih  Justice  Center  (jeanne@tahirih.org).