After the unpopular announcement yesterday by Trump that he is ending the DACA program, immigrants across the country fear their lives will soon be completely upended. Action by Congress could yet secure a legal path to citizenship for these 800,000 young people who were brought to America as children and often know no other home.
There is another legal path to citizenship under jeopardy right here in Utah: U-Visas.
U-Visas enable immigrants who have been victims of a crime to report to the police without fear of deportation, and offers them an eventual pathway to legal permanent residence (green cards). In many cases, these visas are provided to women who are victims of domestic violence or human trafficking whose current immigration status is dependent on the good will of their abusers. Currently, the Utah County Attorney’s Office (UCAO) has forbidden Utah County police departments to sign U-Visa applications without approval, which they will only grant in very specific circumstances.
While the UCAO does have discretion over whether to sign U-Visa applications, the role of the office in the visa process is simply to certify that a crime was committed (basically, checking a box on the visa application form). Ultimately, it is up to the immigration courts to decide whether the individual case merits a U-Visa. AU is concerned that in the current climate, immigrants living in Utah County are unwilling to report crimes because they fear being deported. The UCAO’s policies may be contributing to women being forced to remain with abusive partners, to victims of human trafficking being left without a path to escape, and to a broad range of crimes going unreported–which leaves our communities less safe.
Calling Utah County members!
We are looking for Action Utah members who live in Utah County to join Action Utah’s Immigrant Allies team in a meeting at the UCAO to relay our concerns about their refusal to allow police departments to sign U-Visa applications and advocate for better, more ethical practices that make our communities safer.
CALL TO ACTION
- Utah County residents: Sign up to join Issue Captain Laura Bandara and other Action Utah members in a meeting to advocate for better practices at the Utah County Attorney’s Office. Simply email Laura to sign up.
- Join our Immigrant Allies Team. Become part of the team to step up your community advocacy on immigration issues right here in our own Utah communities. Our Issue Captain will be your guide, providing you with information, tools and meaningful actions for you to take with other team members, such as attending press conferences and rallies, writing letters to the editor, meeting with your legislator, lobbying at the State Capitol, and more. Email us to join the team!