Sending Office: Honorable Pramila Jayapal
Sent By:
Jennifer.Chan@mail.house.gov

        Request for Signature(s)

DEADLINE: Noon, Thursday, March 15

Co-signersJayapal, Panetta, Chu, Clarke, Costa, Gutierrez, Hastings, Jackson Lee, Khanna, McGovern, Torres

Dear Colleague:

            In 2000, Congress created the U visa through passage of bipartisan legislation, the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act. Congress envisioned the U visa as a powerful tool for law enforcement to promote public safety by encouraging
immigrant victims to come forward, report crimes, and cooperate with law enforcement in investigations and prosecutions.

            Currently, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has over 190,000 U visa applications pending. This lengthy delay is significant and seriously compromises the safety of applicants, leaving victims vulnerable to further abuse as well as removal
while their applications are pending. Furthermore, this hurts the ability of law enforcement to use this tool that Congress created as effectively as possible since victims risk removal while criminal cases are pending, and it delays the relief for victims
who have cooperated in the investigation and/or prosecution of criminal activity.

            Please join me in sending a letter requesting appropriators to increase staffing of the Vermont Service Center Humanitarian Unit and the Nebraska Service Center U Visa Unit by at least 60 additional agents, provide adequate resources to hire
staff, and increase resources to train adjudicators to address the backlog.

            To sign on, please contact Jennifer Chan (jennifer.chan@mail.house.gov) in Congresswoman Jayapal’s office and John Assini (john.assini@mail.house.gov) in Congressman Panetta’s office. The deadline
is noon on Thursday, March 15th.

Sincerely,

 

PRAMILA JAYAPAL                                               JIMMY PANETTA
Member of Congress                                                 Member of Congress

 

March 19, 2018

The Honorable John Carter                                        The Honorable Lucille Roybal-Allard
Chairman                                                                     Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Homeland Security                        Subcommittee on Homeland Security
Committee on Appropriations                                    Committee on Appropriations
B-307 Rayburn House Office Building                      2083 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515                                            Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Chairman Carter and Ranking Member Roybal-Allard:

            As you develop the FY 2019 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations bill, we write to urge you to increase staffing of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) Vermont Service Center Humanitarian Unit and the Nebraska
Service Center U Visa Unit by at least 60 additional agents, provide adequate resources to hire staff, and increase resources to train adjudicators to address the backlog.

            Congress created the U visa with the passage of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act in 2000 to provide protections to immigrant victims of certain enumerated serious crimes (including domestic violence, rape, and human trafficking).
Congress envisioned the U visa as a powerful tool for law enforcement to promote public safety by encouraging immigrant victims to come forward, report crimes, and cooperate with law enforcement in investigations and prosecutions.[1]

            Currently, there are more than 190,000 U visa applications pending.[2] According to USCIS, the agency is currently adjudicating U nonimmigrant
petitions that were filed on or before August 25, 2014, which means that it takes nearly four years for a case to be initially adjudicated and placed on the U visa waitlist.[3] This
lengthy delay is significant and seriously compromises the safety of applicants, leaving victims vulnerable to further abuse as well as removal while their applications are pending. Furthermore, this hurts the ability of law enforcement to use this tool that
Congress created as effectively as possible since victims risk removal while criminal cases are pending, and it delays the relief for victims who have cooperated in the investigation and/or prosecution of criminal activity.

            It is also disturbing that there has been very little movement in adjudicating these applications.  On June 5, 2017, the posted processing times for U nonimmigrant visas indicated that they were processing applications that had been filed on
or before June 9, 2014.[4] Thus in an eight-month period, there has only been an advance of two months in processing U visa applications. These delays lead
to economic instability for victims, increased risk of removal, and an inability to rebuild victims’ lives following their victimization.

            In order to maintain public safety and support healthy families and communities, everyone must feel safe contacting the police to report crime and seek assistance. The U visa backlog severely hinders victims of serious crime from moving on with
their lives. At a time when law enforcement across the country are reporting lower rates of reporting crime due to fear in immigrant communities, it is critical that we make sure that the U Visa process is functioning efficiently.[5]

            We respectfully request that the DHS FY 2019 Appropriations increase staffing of USCIS’ Vermont Service Center Humanitarian Unit and the Nebraska Service Center U Visa Unit by at least 60 additional agents, provide adequate resources to hire
staff, and increase resources to train adjudicators to address the backlog.

Sincerely,

        

 


[1] Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (H.R. 3244), P.L. 106-386, § 1502, 114 Stat. 1518 (“Congress finds that…there are several
groups of battered immigrant women and children who do not have access to the immigration protections of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 which means that their abusers are virtually immune from prosecution because their victims can be deported as a
result of action by their abusers and the Immigration and Naturalization Service cannot offer them protection no matter how compelling their case under existing law.”)

[2] U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Number of I-918 Petitions for U Nonimmigrant Status (Victims of Certain Criminal Activities and Family
Members) by Fiscal Year, Quarter, and Case Status 2009-2017
 (Last accessed Feb. 26, 2018) available at: https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Resources/Reports%20and%20Studies/Immigration%20Forms%20Data/Victims/I918u_visastatistics_fy2017_qtr4.pdf.
 

[3] USCIS, “USCIS Processing Time Information for the Vermont Service Center” (last accessed Feb. 26, 2018) available at: https://egov.uscis.gov/cris/processingTimesDisplay.do.

[4] USCIS, “USCIS Processing Time Information for the Vermont Service Center” (last accessed Jun. 5, 2017) available at: https://egov.uscis.gov/cris/processingTimesDisplay.do.

[5] See, e.g. Carolina Moreno, Houston Police Announce Decrease in Latinos Reporting Rape, Violent Crimes, Huffington Post (Apr. 11,
2017) available at: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/houston-police-announces-decrease-in-latinos-reporting-rape-violent-crimes_us_58ebd5fae4b0df7e204455f4;
James Queally, Fearing Deportation, Many Domestic Violence Victims are Steering Clear of Police and Courts, L.A. Times (Oct. 9, 2017) available at: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-undocumented-crime-reporting-20171009-story.html;
Bernice Yeung, Police: Immigration Policies Making it Harder to Catch Criminals, Salon (Feb. 10, 2018) available at: https://www.salon.com/2018/02/10/police-immigration-policies-making-it-harder-to-catch-criminals_partner.

Related Legislative Issues

Selected legislative information:Appropriations, Homeland Security, Immigration, Judiciary

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