Welcome To America: An Immigrant’s Story: Immigrant Shooting survivor: U-Visa Process, Duration and Cost QUESTION 1 Mark: Let’s jump right…
Welcome To America: An Immigrant’s Story: Immigrant Shooting survivor: What problems will they face?
Welcome To America: An Immigrant’s Story: Immigrant Shooting Survivors: What problems will they face?
Mark: Andres, this is clearly a tragic story for everyone involved, but it seems particularly tragic for Gabriel and Juan. They both witnessed unspeakable violence and traumatizing events, but now they are afraid of talking to the police because they fear deportation. Let’s start with that.
Do undocumented immigrants need to be concerned about talking to the police if they witnessed or were a victim of a crime?
Andres: So generally, if they’re a victim of a crime, no, there are certain laws that protect them, like a U Visa, or a T visa, or an S visa, today, we’re going to talk about a U Visa. But the whole point of that is, is that immigrants are generally afraid to talk to the police, particularly when they’re victims of a crime, that if they qualify for a U Visa, not only do they not need to be afraid they actually will get legal status. But to answer your question, should they be afraid? Well, if they have an order of arrest, they’re gonna get arrested. Right, but they’re not getting arrested because they’re undocumented. That’s a federal issue, not a state issue. But they wouldn’t be arrested if they if Gabriel, for example, failed to pay child support and has an order for arrest, if he was arrested for a crime and didn’t show up the court or if he has charges pending, even if they were 10 years ago. Yes, you have reason to fear if the police are actively looking for you because there’s an order of arrest. Sure. But again, you’re not being arrested or detained based on being a victim or your involvement in this incident. It’s just because you have something else that will be the same if I had such a problem as a US citizen, I would also be arrested. It has nothing to do with immigration status.
Mark/Jose: Ok, so I am correct when I say Do undocumented immigrants have nothing to fear from contact with the police if they have not committed a crime?
Andres: If they have not committed a crime, or I should say if they’re not sought after by the police, again, failure to pay child support is not in and of itself a crime. Right? If I got a traffic ticket, or I left my car with someone, they got a parking ticket. And I didn’t show up because I didn’t know but ticket my friend was not so nice and didn’t tell me about it. I didn’t do anything wrong. But all of a sudden, I have an order of wrestling out for me. So I don’t want to say if they didn’t commit a crime if they have no reason to believe that they’re being investigated by the police. Okay, I think that that covers a broader spectrum. That’s all but your statement is generally true. Okay.
Mark/Jose: Is there a situation when an undocumented immigrant should not report when they have been a victim of a crime?
Andres: Victims of a crime should always, particularly if they’re undocumented, because they may get a benefit out of it, but really from the point of view of society, society wants victims to report incidents to the police. The only time somebody should be concerned is when they have an order of arrest. They should fix that first and then talk to the police because what happens? I go I talk to the police, they’ll hear me out. They’ll ask me questions. So we have a client where he has a criminal defense attorney, we were hired to give an opinion on his case actually came to file for citizenship and to file for his wife and we found out well, he’s he was being he was charged with sex abuse of a minor. Now, what happened? He called the police saying he was a victim of our jacket, and that people were actively looking at it. Well, those people happen to be the parents of the two 15-year-old daughters, kids, you know he was trying to solicit? So he came in police investigated, and then they connected the dots, wait a minute, the police called the parents called to explain what’s going on. This car matches that description. What’s going on here? So he committed a crime. But he said he was a victim. He reported it. He wound up getting arrested and being charged with the crime because his actions were at the same time. And he volunteered the information that resulted in his arrest. Right. So yes, that individual needs to be concerned, because of what he did right then and there. I mean, I can’t fix stupid. Sorry, I know that sounds terrible. But if you’re going to do bad things, don’t call the police and complain that you’re the victim. You’re just inviting, that it has nothing to do with Gabriel and Juan. Just giving you an example of when calling the police might not be a good idea. Now imagine, it’s gonna be he’s got a, you got a good outcome. He has a good criminal defense attorney, he has a good immigration attorney, he’s going to be a US citizen, and he’s going to be able to file for his wife. At the end of the day, this was a nonviolent offense. What he tried to do, and what he did do are two very different things, and in the US we tend to do is usually a bit harsher than trying to do. Immigration doesn’t make a difference. Trying or doing is the same thing for immigration purposes. But messaging somebody with inappropriate communication is not the same as sexual molestation. It’s a very big difference.
Mark: And I imagine that’s a bad idea, regardless of your legal status. Oh, yeah.
Andres: Doing that is a bad idea, everyone, in case you didn’t mean to tell you. But if you’re not a US citizen, well, if you’re convicted, the bad news is you get an all-expense paid trip back home. And it’s a one-way ticket.
Mark: It’s not a lottery, we want to try to play
Andres: back to Gabriel and Juan. Yeah, actually, it particularly hit me he has no back. He has no, um, there’s nothing in his past that would lead him to be concerned. Now, if he was caught at the border, and he didn’t go to court and he has an order of deportation. Okay. He might be concerned, most police agencies aren’t going to pick that up. But sometimes they do. And increasingly, databases across the country are more interconnected. So maybe it’s tomorrow, maybe it’s 10 years from now. But at some point, police are going to know things like that anywhere in the country.
Mark: I am just playing devil’s advocate here, but What happens if the police do detain an undocumented immigrant when they come forward to report a crime?
Andres: Well, if they did, it would be for reasons, separate and apart from being undocumented. Because being undocumented may or may have violated our laws, but it’s not a crime, per se. And local law enforcement doesn’t generally have the authorization to detain somebody based on their immigration status. They don’t have the knowledge and experience. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. It doesn’t mean you don’t have biased police officers that concoct something just to be able to call ice. Yes, I’ve seen that a lot. But generally speaking, that is not something that that no, you should be afraid of. Most law enforcement realizes that doing things like that will isolate them from the immigrant community. And look, if you’re brown-skinned, and you’re looking for somebody in the immigrant community. So let’s say they’re from Jamaica, right? Well, if you don’t speak the language if you don’t know the people, and you look like me, it’s gonna be hard to get their trust initially. So doing things like that is counter to the interest of law enforcement. Does it mean some people don’t do it? We’ve all heard stories in Arizona, particularly in Texas, it can happen. So if you’re here without status, yes, you have reason to worry. Stepping out of your door is at risk. Everything you do puts you at risk. Some things increase that risk. Talking to the police when you’re a victim shouldn’t but sometimes it does. I’m not gonna lie to you. I’m not going to tell you everything’s going to be fantastic. Generally, you have nothing to worry about it until you do.
Mark: Right. Right. It makes a lot of sense. I mean, at the end of the day, what has to happen is you got to find a way somehow if you’re fortunate enough to make that journey over successfully. Your next step has always got to be what can I do to protect my rights? That’s right.
Andres: And that’s what talking to someone like us, helps.
Mark: Ok, now that we know there isn’t much for undocumented immigrants to fear when they have contact with police, Is there a way that this tragic event could turn into something positive for Gabriel and Juan?
Andres: I can’t change what happened, right? None of us can, there is something that’s called the U Visa, we introduced it before, it’s for victims of violent crime. Now, if Gabrielle or Juan had been shot, well, they’re clearly victims. Now what happens when you’re involved in the shooting, but when you’re not actually shot, okay, that becomes harder. But when you’re talking about a mass shooting event, where everybody that’s there is traumatized, it’s a different story. So U visa would be an awesome option for Quan or Gabrielle. And because Gabriel is underage, it usually is one filing, and then his son as his derivative beneficiary. Now, if Gabriel was an adult, let’s say they were both working together, and he was over 21, well, then one would have to file for himself, Gabriel, we have to file for himself. So U visa victims of violent crime must communicate with the police, and there has to be law enforcement participation. Here, it’s automatic, the police show up. But what happens if this was a shooting at my house and no one called the police? So here, the police show up there is police involvement, we just need to document and prove what happened. We’ll go to the elements in a moment. I’m sure you’re going to ask me. But I want to make sure I answer this question. Back on. So U Visa is an option. Stay tuned for next week when we go into detail. What are the requirements? And what is the process? What is Gabriel and Juan need to do in order to be able to achieve legal status in the United States? But for purposes of today? It’s important to say yes, they have an option. Yes, they were victims. And yes, there is a silver lining can’t change what happened. But there is a way for them and their family to achieve legal status in the United States. It’s a path to get a visa, which then becomes a green card, which then becomes citizenship. Now he has to file and qualify for each one of them. But it is a path to citizenship. It’s not automatic. He has to do something at every step. But the good news is he and his entire family will be able to stay whether they’re in the United States or outside that states. If they’re outside to be able to come into the United States. It takes a long time to get it. But there is a solid option for them.
Mark: Great, so it sounds like even out less tragic situations, there are still ways for undocumented immigrants who are victims of crime or witness a crime to stay in the United States and get legal status.
In next week’s episode of Welcome to America, we are going to talk more about solutions to immigration problems for victims of crime in the United States.
Thankfully, most people will probably never have to go through a mass shooting to get legal status, but immigrants do fall victim to crime much more often than US citizens, so it is really important to watch next week’s show to learn more about immigration solutions for victims of crime.
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