Feminists and other assorted leftists are really upset about VAWA not being reauthorized, but I get the sense that they don’t really understand what’s at issue. The new, more extensive VAWA passed by the senate includes some novel provisions, such as extending tribal jurisdiction to non-Indians in domestic cases (as opposed to state or federal as mandated by law), giving non-citizens access to government programs and benefits when they accuse men of DV, and extending DV protection to homosexuals. Naturally, where liberals and feminists are concerned, there can never, ever be anything wrong with such feel-good proposals.
I have little knowledge concerning federal law as it pertains to tribal jurisdiction, so I’ll leave that untouched here (those in the know feel free to fill me in). As for the homosexual “protections,” I’m astounded that gays would support such a thing, because precisely as many homosexuals who benefit from the bill will see their lives destroyed by it. When it comes to couples, VAWA is negative sum, because while it may marginally benefit some partners it tends to punish the other partner with a severity that outweighs the help extended to the one who made the complaint. Gays prosecuted under VAWA would be treated like straight, married men under the Senate bill. I seriously doubt they realize what they’d be getting into with that kind of legislation. In fact, gays should be thanking the House Republicans for holding it up.
What most rankled the Republicans, I suspect, were the provisions relating to immigrants — illegal ones in particular. The senate bill would have granted them visas, funding and a raft of goodies when they made DV accusations. This is what we call an “incentive to accuse.” VAWA already offers American women an incentive to accuse, and accusations have become so common that you’ll hear at least every other divorcing wife making them in family court. When I read a comment on Maddow’s blog from a prosecutor who said it was difficult to get women to accuse their husbands, I had to wonder what world he was living in. I think it might be the world where you get paid more for prosecuting more men, because that’s one of the biggest whoppers I’ve seen in a while.
So, if the senate version had passed, we would likely have seen a giant surge in accusations of DV made by illegal immigrant women, filling our courts (and jails) beyond capacity. Becoming an official “battered woman” would allow them to avail themselves of all sorts of federal benefits, such as TANF, SNAP, medicaid, social security and others that are typically extended only to permanent residents (i.e. citizens or green card holders). It may be true that most wouldn’t ultimately obtain that status (VAWA visa claims already have something like a 65% failure rate, which suggests that they are mainly fraudulent accusations), but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t try, and try a lot. Given how many illegal immigrant women we have in the country, this could be an enormous mess. It’s hard to believe the Senate is so stupid and short-sighted that they’d suggest such a program with so little debate. It’s also hard to believe that the feminists and liberals are so stupid that they are willing to blow what remains of VAWA’s credibility – and fiscal viability – by opening it up to a population of some 20 million who, given the incentives, would certainly use it at a much higher rate than the rest of us.
Sometimes I get a bit cynical, and think to myself “why not give them enough rope to hang themselves?” But then again I do still have some residual patriotism, and there’s nothing in it for me (unlike Mr. prosecutor, who rubs his hands in glee thinking about how this will guarantee his job security), so I ought to take a stand against it. However, the more I think about these issues, the less faith I have in the competence of our governing class, and the viability of the US as we know it. We have devolved into a howling mob that knows nothing more than political catchphrases, and hasn’t the foggiest idea about what the real-world implications of the policies they promote could be.