VAWA Sign-On Letter

VAWA Sign-On Letter

May 15, 2012

 

Dear Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader Pelosi,
 
On behalf of the undersigned faith leaders and faith-based organizations concerned about victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, sexual assault, and other forms of violence, we write to express our concerns about Title VIII of the House Judiciary Committee-approved version of H.R. 4970, legislation to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which we understand the House of Representatives plans to vote on this week. 
 
Faith communities are on the front lines, identifying victims, providing refuge, referring victims and their families for services, and offering hope and healing. In times of crisis, victims often turn to faith leaders for support and moral guidance because they see places of worship as a sanctuary from the horrors they have experienced. Through our ministry with victims, we have learned that abusers often exploit a victim’s immigration status, leaving individuals extremely vulnerable and afraid to report the abuse to law enforcement, assist in the prosecution of crimes, and seek services. 
 
Congress created VAWA in 1994, and it has voted twice since then to reauthorize the law, each time with broad bipartisan support. However, we are deeply troubled by Title VIII of H.R. 4970. Sections 801, 802, and 806 would actually roll back protections in current law for battered non-citizens, making them more vulnerable and, in some cases, endangering their lives. We urge you to strike these provisions from the bill before the measure is brought before the full House of Representatives for a vote.
 
VAWA is an effective tool in combatting the devastating crimes of domestic violence and providing lifesaving programs and services. We urge Congress to preserve and improve protections for vulnerable immigrant victims.
 
Sincerely,
 
Richard T. Foltin, Director of National and Legislative Affairs, American Jewish Committee
 
Rev. Larry Snyder, President, Catholic Charities USA
 
Rev. Ronald J. Degges, President, Disciples Home Missions, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
 
Noel Castellanos, CEO, Christian Community Development Association
 
Rev. John L. McCullough, Executive Director and CEO, Church World Service
 
Wendy Tarr, Director, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice
 
Rev. Dr. Ken Brooker Langston, Director, Disciples Justice Action Network
 
Alex Baumgarten, Director of Government Relations, The Episcopal Church
 
Luis Cortes, President, Esperanza
 
Alexia Salvatierra, Director of Justice Ministries, Southwest California Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
 
Patrick Carolan, Executive Director, Franciscan Action Network
 
Gideon Aronoff, President and CEO, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
 
Orlando Crespo, National Director, La Fe Multi-Ethnic Ministries, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship/USA
 
Janet Mock, CSJ, Executive Director, Leadership Conference of Women Religious
 
Linda Hartke, President and CEO, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
 
Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach, Director, Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office
 
Salam Al-Marayati, President, Muslim Public Affairs Council
 
Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals
 
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President,  National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference
 
Rev. Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition
 
Simone Campbell, Executive Director ,NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
 
Sr. Gayle Lwanga, National Coordinator, National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
 
Jean Stokan, Director, Sisters of Mercy Institute Justice Team, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas
 
Sr. Esther Anderson, OSF, President, Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia
 
Jim Wallis, President and CEO, Sojourners
 
Rev. Peter Morales, President, Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
 
Jim Winkler, General Secretary, United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
 
Johnny Young, Executive Director, Migration and Refugee Services, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
 
Lynne Hybels, Willow Creek Community Church
 
Deborah Fikes, Executive Advisor, World Evangelical Alliance
 
Stephan Bauman, President and CEO, World Relief