If you are an undocumented immigrant and experienced violence or other criminal activities, you might feel no options for justice remain open to you. The last president took a zero-tolerance approach to immigration, which compelled many immigrants to reconsider reporting criminal activities or cooperating with police officers.
However, even under the former president, immigrants could consider applying for a U Nonimmigrant visa. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, qualifying persons might even seek an adjustment of status afterward.
Why would the government want to help?
USCIS and other government agencies understand that immigrants often suffer unreported crimes at higher rates than citizens and permanent residents. This stems from unfamiliarity with U.S. laws and a legitimate fear of deportation. These agencies also understand that continued silence allows criminal behavior to continue, unpunished.
To encourage more immigrants to come forward, several laws passed to protect immigrants who cooperate with law enforcement, in 2000. In other words, some self-serving reasons exist for this extension of help.
What are some laws that protect you?
Immigration laws change constantly, especially when U.S. governance swings between conservative and liberal political ideologies. However, there are a few laws that remain constant. These include the Battered Immigrant Women’s Protection Act and the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act. Note that seeking protections under applicable laws requires cooperation with local or federal law enforcement agencies to bring offenders to justice.
Naturally, you might still feel fearful about coming forward. Regardless of who remains in power or the federal laws in place, individual officers who enforce them might have xenophobic biases and personal agendas. Consider your options carefully, but do know that provisions exist that might help.