The 'U' visa
The Obama administration seems to have seriously overpromised on immigration reform, leading to a lot of anger in the immigrant community. But even though they're not pursuing a comprehensive solution, they are making some small changes in the direction of human decency. Take the U Visa:
Victims of domestic violence are often deeply reluctant to press charges, fearing retaliation or simply hoping their abusers will change. The risk of deportation only escalates the aversion to go to the police. That is a main reason that Congress passed legislation in 2000, creating the U visa. It allows immigrants who have endured substantial mental or physical abuse and who cooperate with law enforcement officials to work legally and stay in the United States for up to four years while applying for permanent residence.
After nearly a decade of delays, federal officials began allowing the visas en masse only early last year, after sustained efforts from immigrant rights groups, particularly several based in Oakland and San Francisco. The pace of approvals has since stepped up, as has the controversy, with both defense lawyers and groups opposed to immigration contending that the process invites scams.
Victims of a number of different crimes are eligible for the program, but three-fourths of the applicants so far have been fleeing domestic violence.
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