A bill to reauthorize the landmark federal Violence Against Women Act is expected to head to the Senate floor for a vote this week.
Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania is calling on lawmakers to renew the act, which offers some new provisions for victims of domestic and sexual violence.
Senate Bill 47, which includes new and expanded definitions of who is covered by the act, also specifies protections for women violated on tribal grounds. It now has LGBT-inclusive language and a measure toward improved safety on college campuses. The bill also makes clear that services for emergency shelter and victim care cannot be refused to illegal immigrants, but it stops there.
Casey says in order to pass the bill, concessions were made and additional protections for immigrants ended up on the cutting-room floor.
Asked whether advocates of immigrant victims would be satisfied with this bill, Casey acknowledged advocates probably will be less than pleased with it due to the absence of specific provisions allowing undocumented immigrants to remain in the country while their cases are pending.
“Part of this isn’t just having a provision that outlaws something. It’s doing everything we can to improve the culture so people aren’t abused even if there isn’t a specific prohibition against one class or segment of society,” he said.
Reauthorization of the act is said to have broad bipartisan support in the Senate. But political analysts say its future remains in limbo in the House of Representatives because of key protections for immigrants and the LGBT community.