Tahirih Justice Center - Strategy and Programs - Public Policy Advocacy

Public Policy Advocacy

The Tahirih Justice Center conducts national and regional advocacy campaigns to educate the public and law enforcement institutions about the threats faced by immigrant women and girls who do not have easy access to legal services. Tahirih employees have given presentations in universities and public forums throughout the United States on issues ranging from the equality of men and women in religious traditions to gender-based violence and persecution. Tahirih has set focused primarily on four public policy areas over the past decade: (1) Forced Marriage Initiative; (2) Campaign to Prevent Abuse and Exploitation through the International Marriage Broker Industry; (3) Protecting and Promoting the Rights of Immigrant Survivors of Crime; and (4) Protecting and Promoting Access to Asylum for Women and Girls Fleeing Gender-Based Persecution.

Tahirih has highlighted the possible dangers of recent, post-9/11 Congressional initiatives to enforce federal civil immigration law that may make immigrant women reluctant to report crime to authorities for fear of deportation. Specifically, Tahirih is concerned that the deputization of state and local police as immigration agents by the Clear Law Enforcement for Criminal Alien Removal (CLEAR) and Homeland Security Enhancement Acts would increase the barriers some women face to reach safety. After the CLEAR Act was reintroduced in June 2005, Tahirih spearheaded a sign-on letter to Congress from nearly 100 organizations that advocate for immigrant survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, and other crimes. Tahirih works with other non-governmental organizations like Amnesty International to promote its issues and advocate on legislative agenda.

One of Tahirih's largest and most successful public policy initiatives has been the Campaign to End the Exploitation and Abuse of Women by International Marriage Brokers. A 2003 Tahirih survey of 175 legal service providers revealed that more than 50% were serving or had served women who met their spouses through a broker. Tahirih joined other like-minded organizations in this campaign and led a four-year effort that culminated in the passage of the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act of 2005 (IMBRA) when it was attached to the bill that reauthorized VAWA. IMBRA provides foreign women with important information about their prospective American husbands, such as whether the men have violent criminal histories. The law mandates that foreign women know the rights and resources available to domestic violence victims in the United States. Through this law, foreign women who marry American men will be given critical tools to protect themselves and their children from domestic violence.

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