According to reporting from The Nation, a 39-year-old mother from Michigan was deported to Mexico after nearly two decades in the United States. What makes this story especially heart wrenching is that she worked directly with American law enforcement by testifying against the man who sexually assaulted her, which helped prosecutors obtain a conviction and put him in jail.
She applied for a visa designed to protect victims of crime who cooperate with law enforcement. However, she was deported before she could obtain legal protection. In 2017, she was arrested for welfare fraud and pled guilty to a misdemeanor out of fear that she could not prove her innocence. Alarmingly, The Nation reports that these charges were based on accusations that were leveled by her attacker.
What is a U Visa?
A U visa is a critically important immigration option that is designed to provide protection to victims of serious crimes. It is a four-year visa that, if conditions are met, can eventually lead to a green card. In order to be eligible for a U visa, an applicant must have also assisted law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of the case.
U visas help to make our communities safer. They provide a path for some undocumented crime victims to come forward, without necessarily facing fear of deportation. Unfortunately, there are some serious issues with the U visa process as it currently exists. Many crime victims are left exposed.
A Statutory Cap is Blocking Many Qualified Applicants
Congress has set the annual cap on U visas at just 10,000. This number is wholly insufficient. As noted by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), all available U visas are generally granted each year. There has not been a remaining U visa in nearly a decade. Further, every year that the cap is hit, more U visa applications are forced to be rolled over to the following year, thereby creating a tremendous backlog in the system.
According to USCIS data, the U visa backlog was at 134,967 as of the fourth quarter of the 2018 fiscal year. Since President Trump assumed office, the backlog has grown by more than 50,000 cases. With this many applications in the pipeline, it can take USCIS as long as four years to review a U visa application. This is a very serious problem that should be addressed immediately. Congress needs to take action to increase the U visa cap. Qualifying applicants — people who are often victims of violent crime — should not be exposed to deportation.
Get Help From a Deportation Defense Lawyer
At the Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, our immigration lawyer has extensive experience handling all types of deportation cases. If you or your loved one received a Notice to Appear, you need to take action to protect your rights. For a fully confidential consultation with an immigration lawyer, please call our Los Angeles law office today.