Want a Visa? Just Fake a Crime and No Deportation for You!
Practicing criminal defense law here in Dallas, where I represent clients across the State of Texas, it’s not unusual for our offices to see folk who aren’t American citizens. However, there’s a growing problem brewing here in the United States that people need to know is happening.
And this is real; it’s going on right now. Here’s what I know.
I’ve had several family violence assault cases on my defense docket which were really, really “iffy” that the prosecutor decided should be filed anyway. What is curious about these particular domestic assaults?
First, the cases I’ve seen have been filed well after the alleged date of assault. Big time gap between the date of the alleged assault and the time that the authorities are proceeding with the case.
Additionally, there’s no photographic evidence. There’s no medical evidence. Just a “he said, she said” case.
So, why are these assault cases being filed and moving forward? In my humble opinion, it’s all because of the “U-Visa” that is available to the accusers here.
Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
Under a federal law, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), if a non-citizen victim of certain crimes comes forward (the full list of crimes is shown below) and cooperates with law enforcement then in exchange, the federal government will issue them a “U-Visa” allowing them to remain in the United States so the crime can be prosecuted.
For instance, victims of domestic violence allegedly perpetrated by their spouse, child, or parent, can file Form I-360, Petition for Widow(er)s, Amerasians, and Special Immigrants, to get their visa to stay in the United States. Once they submit that form, deportation proceedings are put on hold — and sometimes, deportation proceedings are flat out terminated.
After the U-Visa is issued to the illegal immigrant, they have approval to stay in the United States for four years.
What’s the reason for this law? Here’s how Homeland Security explains it:
“Some immigrants may be afraid to report acts of domestic violence to the police or to seek other forms of assistance. Such fear causes many immigrants to remain in abusive relationships….
“U nonimmigrant status (or U visa) offers immigration protection for victims and is also a tool for law enforcement. To obtain U status, the victim must obtain a certification from law enforcement, however, law enforcement officials should note that providing a certification does not grant a benefit—only the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has the authority to grant or deny this benefit.
“Victims are not required to be in legal immigration status, but they must:
Be a victim of qualifying criminal activity and have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of the crime,
Possess credible and reliable information about the qualifying criminal activity,
Be, have been, or are likely to be helpful to the investigation and/or prosecution of that qualifying criminal activity, and
Be a victim of criminal activity that violated a U.S. law.
Sounds good, right? It is.
Until you have people faking crimes and pointing the finger at innocent people just to stay in the US.
More and More U-Visas Issued Since 2009
There’s clearly a trend upward for the number of these U-Visa applications being filed. As revealed in the Immigration Services Chart, the number of pending U-Visa applications in the third quarter of 2014 ( 68,195) is three times the amount of applications received during the entire 2009 fiscal year (21,138).
Growing National Trend: Illegal Immigrants Who are Faking Crimes to Stay In the United States
This week, several news stories are being published that make it pretty clear that there are lots of illegal immigrants in this country who have heard about the U-Visa and are taking advantage of this opportunity by fraudulently claiming to be victims of crime.
Apparently, their likelihood for success depends upon which local law enforcement agency is involved. Some police departments are much more willing to issue certifications (which are needed to get the U-Visa) than others.
Chances are much higher to get a U-Visa certification from a California police department than the rest of the country. Statistics show that it’s easier to get one in Austin or Houston than it is in Dallas.
Serious Injustice Here As Innocent Victims Being Labelled Criminals
The sad truth is that allegations are being made — with all the stigma and strife that comes with this kind of finger-pointing — because it’s a way to work the system to get a green card.
As someone who represents the accused, I believe this to be a growing, serious problem. From my perspective, the U-Visa program is inviting fraud — and creating real victims in the process, as it’s my client that is the real victim in these fake, trumped-up criminal cases.
The Crimes Covered by U-Visa
- Abusive Sexual Contact
- Domestic Violence
- False Imprisonment
- Female Genital Mutilation
- Felonious Assault
- Hostage Taken
- Involuntary Servitude
- Obstruction of Justice
- Witness Tampering
- Sexual Assault
- Slave Trade
- Sexual Exploitation
- Unlawful Criminal Restraint
- Other Related Crimes *†
*Includes any similar activity where the elements of the crime are substantially similar.
†Also includes attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any of the above and other related crimes.
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