WASHINGTON -- The debate over updating a law that protects victims of domestic abuse has become the latest battleground over immigration policy.
Republicans in Congress are proposing to strip away existing protections for immigrants who are the victims of domestic violence.
The Republican-drafted version of the Violence Against Women Act, originally passed in 1994, is scheduled to be debated on the House floor on Wednesday and could be brought to a vote this week.
Currently the law offers anonymity to victims of domestic abuse who are applying for residency visas so that their applications cannot be sabotaged by their abusers. To encourage victims of domestic abuse crimes to remain in the U.S. and cooperate with police, witnesses are able to apply for a special residency visa and eventually apply for permanent residency.
Both of these safeguards have been removed from the House bill.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) has argued the changes will help prevent fraud.
"It’s never been this nasty," said an administration official involved in the negotiations who was not authorized to speak publicly. "We’d rather not have a bill than have this be the bill," the official said.