With a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, Legal Momentum and the Vera Institute of Justice formed the National Immigrant Victims Access to Justice Partnership in October 2009. Through field-tested materials – including a new Toolkit for Law Enforcement Use of the U-Visa – the Partnership’s goal is to facilitate cooperation between immigrant victims of crime and law enforcement.
Leslye Orloff, Director of the Immigrant Women Program
The key to greater cooperation is the U-visa, an immigration status created as part of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act in 2000.
Victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking are often reluctant to report the crimes against them for a variety of reasons, including economic uncertainty, fear of their abusers, concerns about their credibility with the police and the justice system, and more. These concerns are often compounded for immigrant women, particularly for undocumented immigrant women who may fear deportation or long-term separation from their children and extended family.
The U-visa was created to allay these fears by giving undocumented immigrants who are helpful in the investigation or prosecution of a crime a path to lawful permanent residence in the United States. This visa also improves the effectiveness of law enforcement in investigating and prosecuting crimes.
Unfortunately, few law enforcement agencies are aware of the U-visa and how it can be used to assist them. The goal of the National Immigrant Victims Access to Justice Partnership is to train law enforcement officers on using the U-visa and similar tools at their disposal so that they can effectively protect our communities.
In addition to trainings regional trainings, Legal Momentum and the Vera Institute in consultation with law enforcement trainers for the National Immigrant Victims’ Access to Justice Partnership also recently developed a Toolkit for Law Enforcement Use of the U-Visa. The Toolkit provides information to law enforcement agencies on their role in the U-visa process, which allows immigrant victims of some crimes to obtain immigration relief. The Tool Kit contains legal information, flow charts, FAQs, sample U-visa certification policies as well as other resources.
Learn more about the National Immigrant Victims Access to Justice Partnership’s trainings across the country.
Learn more about Legal Momentum’s Immigrant Women Program.