Monday, January 26, 2009

U-Visas: Underused Relief for Immigrants

Eight years ago Congress created the u-visa both to give relief to the undocumented who were victims of a crime and to fight crime. Only last summer the first such visa was granted and as few as 65 to date. Those who have applied and are waiting are grant temporary or interim relief, protecting them from deportation and allowing them to work. Not every victim of a crime qualifies. The undocumented must cooperate in the prosecution of the perpetrator and usually testify at trial. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services attributed the slow up to the complexity of cases. Immigrant lawyers and advocates feel USCIS, not your model bureaucracy, is simply "dragging its feet." There are 13,300 immigrants waiting for a u-visa and Congress had authorized 10,000 a year. (See LA Times article.)

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