In a move that bucks the trend of many of his conservative colleagues, far-right Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) came out today in support of protecting undocumented immigrants from domestic violence. During the House Judiciary Committee mark up of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), Poe offered an amendment to ensure that undocumented people would be protected under the bill — much like the amendments added by the Senate Democrats in their reauthorization of VAWA.
Though his provisions do not go far enough, or match Democratic efforts to protect the undocumented, they may build support among Republicans, who are hoping to pass a version of VAWA that violates the confidentiality of undocumented people.
Poe, generally not a fan of the undocumented community in his home state, argued that protections for undocumented victims are necessary and humane:
POE: The concept and the law of VAWA is good public policy. It is also good public policy that we understand that in immigrant communities there is a lawless element that preys on immigrants, sometimes that lawless element is also immigrants– immigrant gangs in some instances. And they use intimidation and fear tactics and one they use many times is the concept that they can commit crimes against other immigrants–spouses, children– and if the victim dare report the crime to law enforcement, the immigrant criminal will make sure that there is a deportation proceeding that takes place.
Whether that is true or not, that they are able to succeed in that, victims fear that. They fear the deportation because of being a victim. Public policy should be, in this country, that if you are a victim of crime, that should be paramount to us as a nation, as opposed to allowing intimidation and fear from those who wish to prey on immigrants to keep them from reporting crime. When crime is committed it effects our entire community and it effects our social stability. So I’m a supporter of VAWA.