The House GOP appears to have had a last-minute change of heart Wednesday, voting to restore some protections to a bill that helps victims of domestic abuse.
Last week, the GOP-led Judiciary Committee approved a measure that called for changing the Violence Against Women Act, including eliminating protections for immigrants who are victims of domestic violence. Enacted in 1994, the act has been reauthorized twice with broad bipartisan support.
The law allows an immigrant who is married to a U.S. citizen or green-card holder -- and therefore eligible to stay in the United States -- to file independently without having to rely on an abusive spouse.
Until now, victims could file their applications confidentially to prevent retaliation from their abuser. But the Judiciary Committee's version of the bill that passed last week rolled back that protection. The committee had also moved to limit visas issued to victims of certain serious crimes. Known as U visas, these can ultimately lead to a green card if a victim cooperates with the investigation and prosecution. The visas have long had the support of law enforcement groups.