The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA) is a federal law that provides for additional resources for the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes committed against women, including immigration provisions protecting people who may lack legal status but also need protection from an abusive spouse, parent, or child. After two renewals of the law in 2000 and 2005, it is up for reauthorization again in 2012.
Several Democratic Senators brought VAWA up for renewal again on Thursday, March 15, in the midst of an already-charged political climate. With debates over issues like insurance coverage of contraception dominating the news in recent weeks, this is either a very opportune time to bring up this issue, or a very bad time. It is important to note, however, that VAWA offers important protections to immigrants who may have a valid claim to a green card or visa, but who cannot obtain one because of a bad domestic situation.