***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE*** Contact: Josh Goodman – Senator Stavisky’s office (718) 445-0004/c.

(202) 577-5810 Linda Sun – Assemblymember Meng’s office (718) 939-0195

RELEASE: Senator Stavisky, Assemblymember Meng Blast House GOP; Vow to Protect Undocumented Victims of Domestic Violence
Following news that the Republican leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives plans to eliminate key protections for women who are victims of domestic violence, State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky and Assemblymember Grace Meng promised to introduce legislation maintaining these protections in New York State. “The role of government is to defend the most vulnerable among us - those who cannot defend themselves,” said Senator Stavisky, who represents a diverse district based in Flushing, Queens. “I am shocked, both as a legislator and as a woman, that the Republicans in Congress would think they could get away with such a blatant disregard for that role.” Under current law, the federal Violence Against Women Act protects the confidentiality of both the identities and statements of all victims and witnesses of domestic violence who report abusers to police. The reauthorization bill pending in the House of Representatives, sponsored by Rep. Sandy Adams (R-FL), would eliminate this protection for any victim or witness who is in the United States without documentation. Observers expect the House vote to take place on Tuesday, May 8th. “All victims of domestic violence – including those without documentation –must feel safe seeking help from our criminal justice system,” said Assemblymember Grace Meng (DFlushing). “This legislation will go a long way to ensure that those suffering through domestic violence are able to confidently and securely seek protection from our criminal justice system.” Several important provisions which Republicans are seeking to cut, including a path to citizenship for cooperative witnesses and the issuance of visas, fall outside the purview of the New York State legislature. However, the legislature does have the power to defend women through state and local law enforcement and the court system. To that end, the forthcoming Stavisky-Meng New York State Violence Against Women bill will: ● mandate confidentiality of testimony in the handling of domestic violence cases, regardless of the immigration status of the victim ● bar state and local law enforcement from inquiring about immigration status of victims or witnesses during the investigation of a domestic violence complaint, or from turning victims seeking assistance over to federal immigration authorities ● allow judges to consider whether a convicted abuser threatened the victim with deportation as an aggravating circumstance during sentencing “The House version of the Violence Against Women Act undermines the spirit of this landmark legislation by depriving some women of access to the legal system’s full protection

against domestic violence,” added Assemblymember Meng. “The bill Senator Stavisky and I are introducing ensures that all victims of abuse are entitled to the same confidentiality that is essential to the law’s effectiveness.” “This legislation seeks to protect undocumented workers trying to make their way to a better life here in the United States,” concluded Senator Stavisky. “We should be making it easier for women who need police help to seek it, not putting up roadblocks and legal hurdles. The United States is a place of hope for immigrants. This bill will protect that hope for those who need it most.” --###--