News

T- and U-Visa Regulations Needed

Jun 26, 2008

Legal Momentum, the Family Violence Prevention Fund, and other leading domestic violence groups wrote to U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Michael Chertoff this month to urge immediate adjustment of T- and U-Visa regulations. For years immigrant victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, sexual assault and other violent crimes have lived in limbo, unable to apply for and receive ‘adjustment of status’ for lawful permanent residency.

Congress enacted T- and U-Visa victims of crime protections under the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act of 2000 to protect immigrant victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking and other violent crimes if they come forward to report criminal activity. These protections help law enforcement agencies by giving them greater access to immigrant crime victims who help them investigate and prosecute criminal activity. This, in turn, improves public safety.

Congress mandated that DHS issue regulations for both the Violence Against Women Act of 2000 and the Violence Against Women Act of 2005 within 180 days of passage of the Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005. But it passed on July 5, 2006, and DHS has failed to follow the congressional mandate and issue the T- and U-Visa adjustment regulations. The groups charge that this undermines the ability of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and prosecutors to effectively fight crime.

DHS has issued interim regulations the past few years, but the groups say it is not enough. Only the issuance of T- and U-Visa adjustment regulations will prevent abusers, traffickers and crime perpetrators from using DHS officials as a tool to carry out threats of deportation – and these threats silence many immigrant crime victims, effectively preventing them from providing critical assistance in criminal investigations and prosecutions. The long delays have put the lives of victims and their children in peril, the groups charge.

For more information on the challenges faced by immigrant victims of violence, visit www.legalmomentum.org/site/PageServer?pagename=iwp_main.

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