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U Visas for Victims of Crimes
Congress’ intent in creating the U visa was two-pronged.
First, they wanted to provide an incentive for crime victims to call the police when they were victimized, and to assist as witnesses in the investigation and/or prosecution of the crimes. In the past, though many victims wanted to report the crimes, they were afraid to do so because they feared that they would be placed into deportation proceedings or detained by the US Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) if they were not in legal immigration status.
This meant that criminals were at little risk of being caught if they targeted immigrant populations, and it made people living in immigrant communities more vulnerable to victimization. Congress hoped that the U visa would help to incentivize these victims to take an active role in seeking justice for the crimes in which they were victims.
The second prong of Congress’ intent in establishing the U visa was to create a tool for law enforcement to help make contact and connections within immigrant communities. The fear that many immigrants felt towards the police made it difficult for law enforcement to pursue cases and to keep communities safe. For this reason, one of the most important requirements of the U visa is that the victim must have been fully cooperative in the investigation or prosecution of a crime.