Sadly, undocumented immigrants find themselves victims of crime on their way to the United States or upon their arrival. Often, they are targeted specifically because of their immigration status and fail to report crimes for fear they will be deported.
In response, many cities, states, and the federal government have begun offering temporary visas and a path to legal permanent residency for undocumented immigrants who are the victims of crime. Here's how these visas work:
New York City's Commission on Human Rights announced yesterday that it will begin issuing T and U visas to undocumented crime victims, making it the first such state agency to do so. The move is aimed to encourage undocumented immigrants to report crime and to help law enforcement investigate and prosecute those crimes.
The T visa applies to undocumented immigrants who were trafficked into the United States and can also protect their parents and/or spouses. NYC's T visa allows victims to stay in the country for up to three years and become lawful permanent residents if they choose.
The city will also offer U visas to victims of crimes occurring in the United States. The U visa provides undocumented immigrant victims of crime a work permit and allows them to remain in the country for up to four years. As reported by POLITICO, "Before the victim of a crime can apply for the U visa, they must first provide the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services with a certification from a law enforcement agency confirming that a qualifying crime has in fact occurred and that the victim is cooperating with the investigation."
Mayor Bill de Blasio hopes the new program will foster trust between undocumented immigrants and law enforcement and lead to more convictions of criminals. "All New Yorkers deserve fair, equal and just protection under the law," said de Blasio in a statement. "We must stand up for the rights of all our brothers and sisters, and make our city safer by encouraging collaboration and engendering trust between police and community."
If you've been the victim of a crime and are afraid to report it to police, you may want to talk to an experienced immigration attorney about your options.
- Browse Immigration Lawyers by Location (FindLaw Directory)
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