The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) applauds the release of a framework for the Build Back Better Act (BBB), but we are also disappointed that critical support to survivors of domestic violence were stripped from the framework of the plan. The BBB makes historic investments in education, housing, healthcare, food security, climate change prevention and mitigation, and community violence intervention. It also includes critical provisions to provide documented status to millions of undocumented immigrants who have been in the US continuously for decades, including children who have been raised in the US and have no other home. In spite of these great strides forward, NCADV is concerned by the decision to remove paid leave from the BBB and its failure to address the U visa backlog.
“NCADV is disappointed to see paid leave, including paid safe leave, stripped from the Build Back Better Act,” says Ruth M. Glenn, NCADV’s President/CEO. “Paid safe leave is critical for survivors to be able to access life-saving services, to seek protective orders, to obtain healthcare, and to attend court dates. Survivors are often trapped, because they are economically dependent upon the abuser; 99% of survivors who experience physical violence also experience financial abuse. Paid safe leave allows them to leave an abuser without further jeopardizing their financial status. Congress needs to add paid leave back into the final BBB.”
More information about the importance of including paid leave in BBB can be found in an op-ed coauthored by Ms. Glenn, Paid Leave to Save Your Life, in Ms. Magazine.
NCADV is also concerned about the failure of the BBB to address the 17-year waitlist for survivors who have qualified for a U visa. The U visa was established so immigrant survivors could report serious crimes, including domestic violence, without fear of deportation. U visas are available to survivors who are helpful to law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the abuser. However, the number of survivors needing U visas far exceeds the number of U visas available. Congress needs to address the U visa backlog in the BBB.
President Biden spoke today about the importance of betting on the American people. The American people include the one in four women and one in seven men who experience intimate partner violence in their lives, and these survivors need access to paid leave. The American people also include the immigrant survivors who stood up to protect their communities and qualified for a U visa, but for whom there are no U visas available.
As BBB is being finalized, we call on Congress and the White House to restore paid leave to the package and to address the needs of survivors on the U visa waitlist.