Imagine being an undocumented immigrant living in the Los Angeles area and having a crime committed against you. Who would you go to for help? You most likely would not think about going to authorities, for those same people who could offer protection could also offer you a one way ticket out of the country.
This is a problem for many undocumented immigrants living in the United States, but it doesn’t have to be. A little-known program can aide people in this situation. The program encourages those who have been victims of violent crimes that have involved severe physical or mental abuse to come forward without fear of deportation. The victim of a serious crime has the ability to apply for what is known as a U-visa. This visa allows the person and his or her immediate family to live and work legally in the United States.
One family that is taking advantage of this program were the victims of an illegal home invasion by police officers. The family came to the United States from Mexico in search of a better life. That life was threatened when authorities broke down their door one night, handcuffed the then 13-year-old boy, placed him in a police car and drove around asking him questions about his neighbors who were suspected of drug crimes.
Though the family told no one about the incident, eventually authorities who were investigating the police officer’s actions caught up with them. It was then that the family learned of their eligibility for the U-visa.
Although this was a harrowing experience that no family should have to go through, the family was able to apply for the visa and remain in the country. They no longer need to fear the threat of deportation and can continue to live and work in this country that they feel provides them with so many opportunities.
Source: Chicago Tribune, “Nightmare home invasion leads illegal immigrant family to special visa,” Annie Sweeney, Feb. 25, 2013