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Locking up, deporting the victims of crimes?

Try to imagine being trafficked into this country. It is frightening and depressing to even consider, but their are men, women and children who are brought to this country and to Lancaster County by less-than-legal means each year. There is no denying that these people are victims of crimes, so why would the federal government even consider locking them up?

Under U.S. immigration law, anyone without a legal or valid visa could be subject to arrest, detention and deportation. Not every victim of a crime has a valid or legal visa, which means they could be sent back to the country from whence they came if they are ever picked up by police. Fortunately, however, the U visa was designed to help individuals wiho have been the victims of crimes and who wish to help law enforcement bring their victimzers to justice. The problem is that no all law enforcement agencies are willing to do what they need to do to help process an immigrant's application.

Though it did not happen in Lancaster County, one local law enforcement agenciy has somehow been able to get by without a written process on how to certify that applicants have been helpful to law enforcement's efforts to bring criminals to justice. According to U.S. immigration law, such agencies are supposed to have a process in place to facilitate applications for U visas.

Not only does not having a U visa put someone at risk of being deported, but it also prevents a victim from legally working. Without a visa, many people are unable to provide for themselves and they families.

Source: New York Daily News, “NYPD refused to certify visa applications of immigrant crime victims: lawsuit,” Eli Rosenberg and Dareh Gregorian, May 8, 2014

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