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I-360 Battered Spouse Petition: Senator Feinstein defends inclusion of gays, lesbians and illegal immigrants in Violence Against Women Act

Under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), victims of domestic violence and cruelty have an alternative to waiting for their abusive spouse or parent to submit the paperwork for a green card on their behalf. They can submit a “self-petition,” using Form I-360, issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

In 1994, Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), creating special routes to immigration status for certain battered noncitizens. Among the basic requirements for eligibility, a battered noncitizen must be the spouse or child of an abusive U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Through a self-petitioning process, the battered spouse/child may apply for immigration status without the knowledge or involvement of the abuser. Derivative status is available to certain children and parents of the principal immigrant.

California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein will head to the floor today with other Democratic women Senators to push for renewal of the Clinton-era Violence Against Women Act. It is part of a coordinated Democratic push for the women’s vote, which Democrats see as in play following the Rush Limbaugh fiasco, the GOP primary’s focus on contraception and claims, disputed by the Mitt Romney campaign, that the Republican frontrunner said he would eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood.

She said as mayor in the early 80s she opened the first home for battered women in the city. At the time, she said, “Women were being battered and had no place to go, and often stayed in home where they were battered again and again.”
She said the 1994 law has reduced “non-fatal partner violence” by 53 percent over a decade and a half with no partisan disagreement, and that she was “stunned” when the Judiciary Committee, on which she sits, passed the reauthorization on a party line vote.

Citing the Centers for Disease Control, Feinstein said on average, 24 people a minute are subjected to “rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States.” That’s 12 million women and men a year. In California, she said 30,000 people have used crisis prevention centers funded by the bill in 2010 and 2011. In 2009, she said California had more than than 167,000 cases in the state in which police were called to a domestic violence scene.

She defended the bill’s expansion to cover gays and lesbians, illegal immigrants and Indian tribes, while saying it also consolidates programs and reduces costs by 17 percent, or $136 million.

Way to go Senator Dianne Feinstein, you have our support.