Posted by January Contreras, Ombudsman for Citizenship and Immigration Services and
Margo Schlanger, Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
Last month, as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we met with a number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who work on issues related to victims of domestic violence and other violent crimes. The meeting provided an opportunity for Department of Homeland Security officials and NGOs to discuss ways we can continue to improve programs and services to protect victims.
During the meeting, we discussed the progress DHS has made in protecting the safety and security of victims of domestic violence and other crimes, including the development of a training program for DHS personnel explaining the requirements of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
The training program, which will be available to DHS personnel this month, will cover the obligations under federal law of DHS personnel to protect victims of domestic violence and other violent crimes that they encounter. The training was created by the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC), in coordination with an intra-agency work group including representatives from the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL), the Ombudsman’s office, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Furthermore, this month, DHS is scheduled to release a resource guide for local law enforcement on U visas, which provide immigration protection to eligible victims of crime who are willing to assist with criminal investigations and prosecutions. CRCL is also working with ICE to produce briefing materials for state and local law enforcement including information on victim protections.
All of us at DHS take the issue of domestic violence seriously. We are committed to continuing to work with our partners -- and with employees -- to protect victims of domestic violence and other violent crimes.