Under the U-visa program, immigrants who help authorities in the United States uncover crimes are granted protection, and there are now calls to expand the program.
Certain groups of immigrants are usually the targets of crimes and are usually too afraid to speak out or reach out to authorities to help bring the perpetrators to book hence the creation of U-visa as an incentive and protection for immigrants who help authorities in criminal investigations.
Unfortunately, the anti-immigration policies of the current administration are causing U- visa program major harm as immigrants are desisting from helping government agencies to solve crime issues because of the fear of being deported in the process instead of getting the U-visa.
About nine years ago, an immigrant woman, Margarita O’Campo, was a victim of crime. The mother of three who had a three-day-old baby then was held hostage for hours by two men who put a gun to her head as her children looked on. The woman who described the day as the worst day of her life said she did all she could to help authorities in investigating the matter but is not granted U-visa given that the crime took place more than six years ago.
During a city address held earlier this week, Durham Mayor Steve Schewel called for an expansion of the U-visa program. He expressed his hope to see crime fall resulting in safer Triangle neighbourhoods.
The Mayor lauded the Durham Police Department for certifying an unprecedented number of U-visa applications in 2018, and he challenged them to do even more.
Concerned parties want the time period of eligibility extended as a sign of support to these groups of immigrants including Latinos.
Having U-visa is a significant help for every community as it helps to build a safer environment for all, a local immigration attorney – Maryam Al-Zoubi – said.
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