New York City that boasts of people from almost all the nations as being its citizens has rolled a programs to support and protect abused illegal immigrants within its City limits. Out of roughly 11.3 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, 535,000 are reportedly living in the City of New York City. Due to their undocumented status, many immigrants do not report crimes such as domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking for fear of deportation.
In a bid to provide undocumented immigrant survivors of crime and human trafficking, the New York City last week announced a new initiative to provide them with services in court so that they can have “equal and just protection” under the law without fear of deportation.
According to Mayor Bill de Blasio and Commissioner and Chair of the New York City Commission on Human Rights Carmelyn P. Malalis, the new initiatives will help such illegal victims of crime and human trafficking to remain in the U.S. during investigation and provide them a pathway to legal permanent residence
“Today, New York City announced that it has expanded its capacity to meet the needs of immigrant communities. U and T visas serve undocumented immigrants who have suffered abuse and encourage them to report the crime regardless of their immigration status. By providing an additional avenue for immigrants to report unlawful activity, the Commission is creating a more fostering environment for immigrant communities,” said Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Nisha Agarwal.
Undocumented immigrants in New York City who are arrested will no longer face the threat of being deported or held at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) centers for undetermined periods of time. The Big Apple has been generous with illegal immigrants for long. Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a law in November 2014 that severely reduces the city’s cooperation with federal immigration authorities and removes ICE agents from Rikers Island.
“What these bills do is protect undocumented immigrants, or visa holders, and legal permanent residents alike, all of whom have suffered under the previous approach, and ultimately prevent families from being torn apart,” de Blasio said at the bill signing held on the steps of a Our Lady of Sorrows church in Corona, Queens, which provides assistance for local undocumented residents. The bills, Intro. 486-A and Intro. 487-A were introduced by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito in October 2014.
The U. S. Congress created both the U and T visas in 2000 as part of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act to encourage undocumented immigrants to come forward and report crimes, and to aid law enforcement in investigations and prosecutions of criminal activity.
The U visa allows undocumented immigrant victims of crime to temporarily remain in the U.S. for up to four years while assisting law enforcement in investigations and prosecutions, and provides them with a chance to legally work, integrate into their communities and get on a pathway to lawful permanent residence.
The T visa, which applies only to undocumented immigrants who have been trafficked into the United States, allows victims to remain in the U.S. for up to three years to assist in the investigations or prosecutions of trafficking crimes, and also provides a pathway to lawful permanent residence. Certification by a law enforcement agency is the first step in the visa process and applicants must submit their certification to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services for approval to receive a visa.