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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.

By Ezra Klein  |  January 8, 2010; 12:15 PM ET
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My understanding is that this visa program was intended to dovetail with VAWA, so it sounds like Biden is continuing to advance his policy priorities

Posted by: rusty_spatula | January 8, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Immigration reform is one of many things the Admin and Dems kicked down the road. A rather large mistake as it won't get easier as the majority in congress shrinks.

In large part, Democratic Leadership (injcluding the Admin) has allowed largely the Senate to move at a snails pace focusing on one thing at a time this year: Stim, Budget, Healthcare. Even the SCOTUS appointment brought other things to a standstill. While important things, it's not as if a chamber of congress can't pick up several things at once.

We knew Healthcare would be major and take time. Probably not this much time, but time. But they really should have had other things lined up in the que as well to fill empty space.

Immigration reform helps the Dems in the long run. It's really a no brainer in that regards. But there's a short term fear of it since it will roll into some of the same turf of the racist elements of the teaparty brigade.

Like many things, the Dems this year are screwing up on things that could help them in the long run. Bold leadership is pretty lacking. And that's not just aimed at the President and Rahm.


Posted by: toshiaki | January 8, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

No immigration reform. No EFCA. But a healthcare bill that seems to annoy ALL the various healthcare constituencies!

The first year of the Obama Administration sure seems to be doing a lot of good for long-term Democratic viability...

Posted by: NS12345 | January 8, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

there are a TON of these the former administration allowed to back-up for years, perhaps unconscionably. besides the VAWAs, there are the many 'walking ATM's who are targeted for robberies because: 1) they carry cash for each days' wages; and 2) they are justifiably afraid to report attacks, esp. post 287-g which delegates immigration enforcement powers to local law enforcement officials.
and all of the victims still face the burden of having to get lawyers to process the visas. this is something obama could have done on day 1.

Posted by: ringgeneralship | January 9, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

It seems to me that the Obama administration is doing a great job of keeping illegal immigrants in the United States. This is not necessarily a bad thing, for if you deported the illegal immigrants of this country then the whole economy would collapse. The rights of illegal immigrants should not be ignored just because they are the product of a bad situation in the places that they come from.

Posted by: JustinB1 | January 12, 2010 9:31 PM | Report abuse

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