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Lifting our Voices to Ensure the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

Posted on 11/14/2012 @ 09:39 AM

By: Rosie Hidalgo, J.D.

The voices of advocates and community leaders have made a big difference this year in working hard to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), but the work is not done. VAWA expired in 2011. Congress has been deadlocked with different versions of VAWA reauthorization bills that passed the House and the Senate in 2012, but has failed to secure the passage of a final VAWA bill that protects all victims. Additionally, the House VAWA bill (HR4970) proposes changes that for the first time in VAWA’s history would erode rather than strengthen protections for immigrant survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault and would undermine victim safety. More than ever, we need to speak out to let Congress know that our nation’s commitment to ending domestic violence and sexual assault cannot falter. Congress must work in a bipartisan fashion during the final weeks of this term to finalize a VAWA bill that will protect all victims and that does not roll back critical protections for immigrant survivors.

On November 8th, hundreds of advocates and community leaders across the country participated on a national call to discuss the importance of getting VAWA across the finish line during this term of Congress. Lynn Rosenthal, the White House Advisor on Violence Against Women, stated that the reauthorization of VAWA is a high priority of this Administration during the “lame duck” session when Congress reconvenes this week. However, she reminded participants that we all need to make our voices heard so that Congress does its part.

Today, Wednesday, November 14th will be a National Day of Action for VAWA, organized by the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, in which we ask community members across the nation to reach out to their members of Congress (Democrats and Republicans alike) to let them know they must approve a final VAWA bill. It is urgent to convey to members of Congress that VAWA must protect all victims and must not roll back current protections for immigrant victims. While the National Day of Action begins November 14th, we should continue to spread the word and urge people to speak out until Congress gets the job done.

If you would like more information about VAWA, and to access additional information about how to contact your member of Congress, visit the policy section of Casa de Esperanza’s website for our national initiative, the National Latino Network for Healthy Families and Communities, at: http://www.nationallatinonetwork.org/policy-and-action/action-alerts/vawa You can also visit www.4vawa.org to learn more about how you can participate in the PassVAWA2012 Social Media Campaign.

I was honored last month, during a Domestic Violence Month awareness event in Chicago, to share the podium with two immigrant women, survivors of domestic violence, who shared their stories of how VAWA’s immigration remedies (the VAWA Self-petition and U visa) were critical to helping them come out of the shadows to seek safety and obtain the help they needed to rebuild their lives free from violence. In this event, organized by Mujeres Latinas en Acción, over 400 Latina women came together for a Women’s Leadership Conference. During that event Casa de Esperanza co-hosted a press conference focused on the importance of VAWA and the need for Congress to come together to finalize the passage of a comprehensive VAWA bill. We were also honored to have Dolores Huerta keynote the event and speak out at the press conference about the importance of VAWA. As a national civil rights leader with an amazing legacy of work over the past four decades fighting for social justice, Dolores Huerta spoke about how important it is in our communities to improve efforts to prevent and end domestic violence and for Congress to ensure that VAWA protects all victims, particularly vulnerable immigrant victims. You can watch a video of the press conference at this link.

We hope you will be able to join efforts to raise our voices to tell Congress to do the right thing… and to do it now. VAWA’s reauthorization has to be about going forward in improving our nation’s response to violence against women – it cannot go backwards. The next step is for Congress to avoid further delays and to agree on a final bipartisan version of VAWA that continues to advance VAWA protections for all victims and does not roll back current protections and undermine safety for vulnerable immigrant victims and their children.

Rosie Hidalgo, J.D., is the Director of Public Policy for Casa de Esperanza: National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families and Communities, a national organization dedicated to mobilizing Latinas and Latin@ communities to end domestic violence. Casa de Esperanza serves on the Steering Committee of the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence. To learn more about Casa de Esperanza, visit www.casadeesperanza.org.

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LULAC on Forbes: The Organizations Behind the Great Latino Vote

Posted on 11/02/2012 @ 11:08 AM

As we move closer and closer to Election Day, LULAC members on the ground are working harder to make sure that Latinos hit the early voting stations or the poll booths this Tuesday. Forbes contributor Giovanni Rodriguez recognized the efforts of the LULAC membership and staff! Read more below.

THE ORGANIZATIONS BEHIND THE GREAT LATINO VOTE

By: Giovanni Rodriguez, Contributor
11/01/2012 @ 1:39 PM

They’re using social, mobile, and on-the-ground organizing. And they’re getting the job done.

Earlier today, The Wall Street Journal posted the latest in a series of headlines this week provoking conversation about Latino voters: “Election May Hinge On Latino Turnout.” But while people debate whether Latinos in fact will show up this election, there are many people with phones in hand, fingers on the keyboard, and boots on the ground making sure that 2012 will be an election to remember. There are too many people in these roles to list them all here. But with the help of a few friends, I’ve selected a few for special attention. If you would like to add an organization to this list, let me know in the comments. There’s still a lot of work to be done, and all these organizations can use your help.

NCLR — the mother of many Latino causes, The National Council for La Raza has been involved on a number of fronts, including a recently announced sweepstakes with The X Factor designed to get younger Latinos to vote. (NCLR on Twitter.)

LULAC – founded in 1929, The League of United Latin American Citizens is the oldest and one of the most venerable Latino civil rights organizations in the US. A partner to several organizations in voter registration programs, LULAC has an ambitious volunteer program where you can “organize your community and host voter registration drives in your neighborhood.” (LULAC on Twitter.)

NALEO Educational Fund — “the nation’s leading nonprofit organization that facilitates the full participation of Latinos in the American political process, from citizenship to public service.” Like NCLR, NALEO has been active in a variety of arenas including research and education on the importance of the Latino vote. Check out the “2012 Latino Election Guide,” linking from their home page. (NALEO on Twitter.)

Mi Familia Vota — “a national non-profit organization working to unite the Latino community and its allies to promote social and economic justice through increased civic participation.” Mi Familia Vota seeks to expand the Latino vote with highly focused voter registration and mobilization in key states. (Mi Familia Vota on Twitter).

Center for Community Change — “one of the larger community building organizations in the US,” according to Wikipedia. With a focus on building “the power and capacity of low-income people, especially low-income people of color,” the Center has teamed with a number of Latino organizations to mobilize the vote. (The Center on Twitter).

Voto Latino — high profile organization dedicated to Latino voter registration and mobilization. Chairwoman Rosario Dawson and CEO Maria Teresa Kumar have been very effective in attracting publicity to the cause and partnering with other organizations. (Voto Latino on Twitter).

America’s Voice: “The mission of America’s Voice and America’s Voice Education Fund (AVEF) is to harness the power of American voices and American values to promote fair and just immigration reform.” The organization has published a number of informative analyses on the scope and impact of ethnic voters. (America’s Voice on Twitter).

Cuentame – “through short video, docu-series, interviews from our studio, the streets, or sent to us by you,” Cuentame has built a solid online community. Check out the video collection on the Cuentame Vote page. One thing I really like about Cuentame: they have been particularly vocal about the risks of Latinos not voting in this election. It’s a subject that’s close to my heart. (Cuentame on Twitter).

Follow me on Twitter.
Read the article on Forbes here.

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