Immigration advocates are up in arms over a proposed bill that would force authorities to deport undocumented women who turn to police for help after experiencing domestic violence. The bill, proposed by Rep. Lamar Smith, is titled the Hinder the Administration Legalization Temptation Act (also known as the HALT Act).
Florida Republicans Vern Buchanan, Richard Nugent, and C.W. Bill Young have cosponsored the bill. Smith said the HALT Act is necessary because he claims that President Barack Obama is seeking a “backdoor amnesty” for millions of undocumented immigrants, according to Think Progress.
Immigrant advocates believe that the proposed bill would undermine existing immigration law by removing two elements that protect undocumented victims of domestic violence—deferred action and prosecutorial action. Michelle Ortiz, an attorney for the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, said that the act would repeal many of the protections offered under the federal 1994 Violence Against Women Act. Victims of domestic violence who are undocumented can self-petition the Immigration Service. If approved, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency gives them deferred action, or a protection from deportation. This protection gives the victims an avenue to apply for work authorization. Should Smith’s bill pass, it would end that path.
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