A weekly discussion of issues and current trends in immigration law and specifically deportation cases.
Tuesday, November 3, 2015
Governor Brown Sign Bill Designed to Help Immigrant Crime Victims By Mandating U-Visa Certification Standardization
Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a bill designed to help
undocumented aliens who are victims of violent crime. The new legislation
introduces time limits on law enforcement's response to their U.S. visa
applications in an attempt to standardize police forces' uneven treatment of
The federal government grants visas to undocumented
immigrants who help law enforcement try to catch criminals. The so-called U
visa allows the recipient to live and work in the United States for four years,
but to apply, a victim must first ask local law enforcement to verify their
California now becomes the first state to mandate that law
enforcement sign U visa certifications in a particular time frame.
The new law requires California law enforcement to verify a
victim's cooperation within 90 days, unless the agency can demonstrate that the
victim was uncooperative. If the victim is in the process of being deported,
the time frame shrinks to 14 days.
A Reuters investigation last year found vast geographic
disparities in law enforcement approaches to this visa, with some agencies
readily verifying cooperation and others stonewalling.
The report showed, for example, that law enforcement in
Oakland, California had verified 2,992 immigrants between January 2009 and May
2014 compared to just 300 in Sacramento, California, which has a slightly
Congress has limited the number of U visas to 10,000 a year,
and the program is heavily oversubscribed. In fiscal 2012, U.S. Citizenship and
Immigration Services received 24,768 applications from crime victims certified
by local law enforcement.
If the agency determines an immigrant is eligible for the
visa but the yearly cap has been reached, that person can still obtain
protection against deportation and work authorization while joining the U visa
California legislators unanimously passed the bill this
year, and Brown announced on Friday that he had signed it.
Crimes covered by the new law include sexual assault,
domestic violence, murder, prostitution, perjury, blackmail, kidnapping,
obstruction of justice and fraud in foreign labor contracting.
The bill, created by Senate leader Kevin de León and Speaker
of the Assembly Toni G. Atkins, is an attempt to boost immigrant trust in and
cooperation with law enforcement. “Every time a criminal goes free because the
victim fears deportation and the police, we are all a little less safe,” said
de León in a published statement.