Many immigrants try to avoid any interaction with the police, knowing that being arrested and convicted of a crime can jeopardize their immigration status. For undocumented immigrants, the dangers are even more serious, as they may face the possibility of a relatively quick deportation.
However, there are many times when people need to speak with the police. For instance, crime victims may have to report the crime. Sadly, many undocumented immigrants are afraid to report that they have been victims of a serious crime because they fear that by revealing themselves, they will make themselves vulnerable. In short, they fear the police will arrest and deport them, instead of the people who victimized them.
The U visa
The federal government has long known of this problem, and has created a way to get around it. If an undocumented immigrant who has been the victim of a serious crime reports the crime, they may be able to receive a special work authorization known as a U visa. First, they must file a petition to receive the visa.
Unfortunately, the federal government has a big backlog in processing these petitions. As a result, many undocumented workers are left waiting years for their U visa. In the mean time, they fear deportation. According to one news story, there are about 1,000 immigrants stuck in this situation here in Pennsylvania. Some have been living full-time in churches where they have taken sanctuary.
Some activists are working to change this state of affairs. A group of lawyers is filing lawsuits on behalf of the affected immigrants, seeking to get U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to speed up the petition process.
Most people who need help with immigration do not need a U visa petition, but every immigration case has its own difficulties. The immigration system is complicated and often frustrating. An experienced immigration attorney can help immigrants and their families to understand their options.