sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

March 26, 2012

The VAWA Extention Battle (PARTIAL NUDITY)

Filed under: feminism, politics — Tags: , , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 2:23 pm

This one should be a no-brainier, but it’s not.  Here is Jenny Erikson on re-authorization of Violence Against Women Act, or VAWA which the Senate Democrats are trying to speed thorough, but Republicans stalling:

Republicans trying to stall VAWA are bound to come off looking like jerks. Why do you hate womyn, Mitch McConnell? Why won’t you help these poor battered ladies escape their abusers, Chuck Grassley? What is wrong with you guys?

There’s nothing wrong with Republican Senators that don’t support VAWA, there’s something wrong with the legislation. Originally passed in 1994, the act has had bipartisan support through two 6-year reauthorizations, but this time around it contains new provisions and fails to protect against potential fraud and abuse.

The new legislation, sponsored by Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, would create 5,000 additional “U-visas,” which are awarded to both legal and illegal immigrants who aid in criminal investigations. Except that people who apply for these visas don’t actually have to ever assist law enforcement. So an immigrant facing deportation could just apply for a U-visa. What does that have to do with helping battered women?

Another section of the bill invites marriage fraud. Most everyone knows that the quickest route to American citizenship is to marry an American citizen … heck, they’ve made movies based on this “marriage of convenience” premise. Normally, the foreign spouse has to rely on their American partner to file the paperwork, but in cases of abuse, the petitioner may file for themselves with a VAWA Self-Petition. I’d like to think that no one would ever falsely claim to be abused in order to get a visa, but it’s a well-documented fact that sometimes people suck.

VAWA is an example, albeit a small one, of the irrationality of our immigration policy.  When women who marry American citizens are admitted to this country and processed for residency, they are given interviews and asked to prove that their relationship is real.  In other words, we already suspect that some of the women are here for the green cards, and we want to make sure they are not.

American citizenship is part of the appeal in great many of the cases.  Still, most women, including the notorious mail order brides, enjoy good relationships with their American spouses.  They make home and start families in this country, and even if their marriage did not begin with earth-shattering romance, they live happy, fulfilling lives together with their American husbands and children.

Unfortunately, things can go South, as they often do, whether or not the American man is married to a foreign woman.  VAWA assumes that it’s the promise of American citizenship is what keeps the woman in an abusive relationship, but real life is more complicated.

Take, for instance, the recent high profile case of Ross Mirkarimi and Eliana Lopez.  It turned out that Mirkarimi, a California Green Party co-founder, who for some reason was elected San Francisco sheriff, was violent with his Venezuela-born wife on at least one occasion.  Eliana refused to cooperate with authorities, blaming dirty politics and — imagine that! — comparing America to Venezuela.  In the video recorded by her neighbor, however, Eliana showed her bruised arm.  The two are no longer together — because judge barred Mirkarimi from visiting his wife.

family violence SF

Eliana Lopez shows off her bruised arm in a video recorded by her neighbor

When I worked in immigration, I heard some very liberal attorneys opine against VAWA not only because of the possibilities of abuse (fraud and abuse was our major concern) but also because they disagree with the underlying presumption that a foreign woman is entitled to American citizenship simply for marrying a rotten man.  Yes, she hoped for a better life, but sometimes when things just don’t work out it’s time to move back.  Work with asylum seekers who, unlike the battered foreign women, have nowhere to go tends to put things in perspective.

It’s interesting that VAWA is such a feminist issue, considering that some of the women in question entered the United States in arranged marriages, which some feminists oppose.  I have to command American feminist establishment for welcoming foreign competition.  Presumably, there is a demographic of men look for foreign wives precisely because they are not feminists.

femen protest

Ukrainian feminists protest arranged marriages -- in this case through a reality TV show

Snark aside, it’s not surprising that VAWA enjoys bi-partisan support.  It’s a highly charged political matter, and that’s the end of it.  Or it should be the end, anyways.  I don’t think Senate Republicans should pick this battle.  When it comes to immigration reform, they should take on bigger issues, like border security.  What’s another 5000 U-visas when we have 12 million illegal immigrants in this country?



  1. You give your legislation some name that sounds good, like Puppy Dog Protection Act, then write whatever you want in the bill and people will simply say the name of the bill so many times that you would have to be heartless not to support it even if it authorizes puppy dogs to be turned into soup.

    Comment by Harrison — March 26, 2012 @ 3:50 pm

  2. Harrison, precisely. It doesn’t matter what it says, as long as it sounds good and I can absolve myself of the need for action and get congratulated on my moral superiority simply by supporting it.

    Comment by AHLondon (@AHLondon_Tex) — March 27, 2012 @ 11:47 am

    • I think it’s actually more about getting “congratulated on my moral superiority simply by supporting it.”

      That’s why Libs love the Toyota Penis… everyone knows they’re driving a hybrid and are morally superior.

      Comment by Harrison — March 27, 2012 @ 11:41 pm

  3. “Presumably, there is a demographic of men look for foreign wives precisely because they are not feminists.”

    You may be right. 🙂 But, these form over substance bills often hide some seriously bad substance.

    Comment by Conservatives on Fire — March 27, 2012 @ 12:12 pm

  4. Harrison, AH London,
    Oh… I guess I’m already on record supporting catapulting and shooting rabbits. (See post below).

    Conservatives on Fire,
    “You may be right.” does this mean I can take it from the horse’s mouth?

    Comment by edge of the sandbox — March 27, 2012 @ 12:36 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: