Crime Victims Seeking Special Visas are Deported

A special visa program for victims of crime who are living in the U.S. illegally encourages them to help solve their cases and catch criminals, and may provide their only clear path to citizenship. As the Trump administration has taken a harder line on immigration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement appears to be stepping up the detention and deportation of people who have applied for the so-called “U visa,”

For victims of crime on U.S. soil who are living here illegally, a special visa program encourages them to help solve their cases and catch criminals, and may provide their only clear path to citizenship. As the Trump administration has taken a harder line on immigration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement appears to be stepping up the detention and deportation of people who have applied for the so-called “U visa,” the Associated Press reports. Cecelia Friedman Levin of ASISTA, a group that works with advocates and attorneys helping immigrant survivors of violence, says, “What that does, to my mind, is undermine the spirit of the protection to begin with.” Through the program, petitioners may get a visa, and then a green card, before applying for citizenship. Because of a long process and apparent policy shifts — something ICE denies — immigrants are being swept up before they have a chance to legalize.

Applications are still active even after deportations, and applicants can be separated from their families for years while they wait. Advocates argue some applicants came to the U.S. after fleeing violence or threats in their home countries and face danger if they return home, even temporarily. Most important, they say, an undermined U visa program discourages the reporting of crimes committed here because immigrants are less likely to come forward as victims. That leaves perpetrators on the street to offend again. There is no official count of how many immigrants are being affected, but several attorneys nationwide see a pattern.

from https://thecrimereport.org