Raise the number of U visas provided to 40,000 a year #JusticeforUVisaapplicants

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Nearly half of all immigrant women in the United States suffer from domestic violence. The u-visa is a nonimmigrant visa that was created for victims of crimes illegal in the United States to help with this problem. The issue with this visa is that Congress called for only 10,000 applications to be accepted every year. There is currently a backlog of 110,500 pending applications, and over 190,000 pending applications including family members of victims (4). The USCIS website also has an example of how long it will take, which is listed as 3-4 years (3). It is evident that with this increase in backlogs, the chances of a victim getting severely injured due to lack of protection increases.

There are many reasons undocumented immigrants stay with their abusers. They may stay because their immigration status is used against them, there are not enough social services for immigrants in the area, or there is not any information available to them about their rights and the legal system (1). Along with this, immigrants may also fear leaving their children behind with the abuser. As wait times increase, victims face further mental and physical abuse which increases their levels of anxiety and depression (2).

The counterargument for keeping the cap at 10,000 is that it protects against fraud. However, this argument is weak because the immigrant applying must provide evidence and work with law enforcement to catch the abuser. The fact that the person applying is willing to work with law enforcement to prove abuse shows little chance of fraudulent activity. Even if there were, law enforcement would discover this and the U visa would not be granted. So, keeping the cap low only ruins the chances of a victim in need.

As citizens of the US, we can help these victims by supporting bills in review in Congress. House Representative Kay Granger has proposed bill H.R. 4145- Protect Victims of Crime Act, which would raise the number of U Visas provided each year from 10,000 to 40,000. With enough support and advocacy, we will be able to achieve #JusticeforUvisaapplicants

Sources

(1) Carpenter, Anna. The Facts on Immigrant Women and Domestic Violence. Futures Without Violence. 20 April 2005. Retrieved from www.futureswithoutviolence.org/userfiles/file/Children_and_Families/ Immigrant.pdf.

(2) Levendosky, A. A., & Graham-Bermann, S. A. (2000). Behavioral Observations of Parenting in     Battered Women. Journal Of Family Psychology, 14(1), 80-94. doi:10.1037//0893-3200.14.1.80

(3) U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Retrieved from https://egov.uscis.gov/processing-times/#mainContent

(4) U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Questions and Answers: Victims of Human Trafficking, T Nonimmigrant Status. 2018. Retrieved from www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/victims-human-trafficking-other-crimes/victims-human-trafficking-t-nonimmigrant-status/questions-and-answers-victims-human-trafficking-t-nonimmigrant-status-0



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