The NAE is very concerned about Title VIII of H.R. 4970, legislation to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).  Instead of strengthening its protection of battered immigrant women and their children, the proposal before Congress would dramatically roll back important protections for them. Among the proposal’s provisions, domestic violence abusers would be allowed to provide input as to whether their victims should qualify for immigration protection.  NAE President Leith Anderson joined with many other faith leaders in a letter to the House Judiciary Committee calling attention to the issue.

Dear Chairman Smith and Ranking Member Conyers,

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 H.R. 4970, legislation to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which we understand the House Committee on the Judiciary plans to mark up tomorrow.

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 communities and 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, as introduced. Title VIII contains many provisions that actually would 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.


Rev. Larry Snyder
Catholic Charities USA

Rev. Ronald J. Degges
Disciples Home Missions
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Noel Castellanos
Christian Community Development Association

Rev. John L. McCullough
Executive Director and CEO
Church World Service

Wendy Tarr
Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice

Rev. Dr. Ken Brooker Langston
Disciples Justice Action Network

Alex Baumgarten
Director of Government Relations
The Episcopal Church

Luis Cortes

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
Mennonite Central Committee
U.S. Washington Office

Salam Al-Marayati
Muslim Public Affairs Council

Leith Anderson
National Association of Evangelicals

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez
National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference

Rev. Gabriel Salguero
National Latino Evangelical Coalition

Simone Campbell
Executive Director
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby

Jean Stokan
Sisters of Mercy Institute Justice Team Sisters of Mercy of the Americas

Sr. Esther Anderson, OSF
Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia

Jim Wallis
President and CEO

Rev. Peter Morales
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations

Jim Winkler
General Secretary
General Board of Church and Society United Methodist Church

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