Legislation to renew

PUBLICADO: EST Apr 16, 2012 12:01 am EST
There are matters that should be resolved in a quick, bipartisan manner by our nation's Congress. The appropriateness of reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act is clear given the law's objective: to provide resources to law enforcement agencies to prosecute these crimes and to relevant organizations like shelters and victim assistance programs.

Since the law was first enacted in 1994, it has been reauthorized twice with bipartisan support, but this time there is resistance from Republican members of Congress, led by Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa.

The problem that Grassley and many-but not all-of his colleagues have is that provisions were added to the reauthorization to include groups that help victims of domestic violence among partners of the same sex.

They also question the fact that there is an expansion of the number of U visas for immigrant victims of such crimes, since in the last two years, the maximum of 10,000 visas was granted while for years visas remained unused while the federal government implemented the program.

The argument for the provision is that the excess visas from prior years can be used now by increasing the annual number slightly, thus offering additional protection to immigrants.

Republicans also object to allowing the authorities on Indian reservations to be able to prosecute domestic violence crimes committed against their citizens by people who are not members of their tribe.

In principle, all these extensions seek a sole objective: greater access to resources to help victims of domestic violence, whether they be men or women, immigrants, heterosexual or gay.

We believe the law should be reauthorized, including what we consider to be improvements in its language to expand the fight against this social problem.

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