Becoming the victim of a crime is one of the most traumatic events most people will ever experience. However, if you are undocumented, it can be even more frightening because it is easy to think that too much interaction with law enforcement may lead to your deportation. There are options for undocumented victims of crime that can increase the likelihood of remaining in the United States.
Undocumented Immigrants Are Common Victims
What many average people do not grasp is that due to their particular situation, undocumented immigrants are very often victims of crimes both violent and nonviolent. While official crime data does not factor in the undocumented (since it is based on census totals, which do not include undocumented immigrants), self-reporting and studies show that significant majorities of the undocumented who were interviewed—roughly 76 percent—reported being the victim of a crime, but did not report it to police due to fears of police bias or immediately being handed over to Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE).
There are multiple causes of this increased likelihood of victimhood, but the most important is perhaps a person’s living situation. Those who cohabitated with many people, as opposed to living alone or with a spouse, were more likely to be victimized, especially by theft. This is simply because undocumented people tend to live with other undocumented people, meaning everyone is perhaps justifiably paranoid about the possibility of law enforcement in their lives. A concern often tied to this is that most undocumented immigrants do not have bank accounts, so they tend to store valuables and cash in their homes. Hence, they are left more vulnerable to theft or robbery.
U Visas And Other Immigration Help
If you are undocumented and become the victim of a crime, you may be able to obtain immigration assistance so that you can stay in the country to help with prosecution. Both direct and indirect victims of crimes may benefit from the grant of a U visa, which is the most common assistance offered to undocumented victims. Only 10,000 are offered per calendar year, however, so timing may preclude your ability to receive one, even if you are victimized.
Another possible option for some is to apply for a T visa, which applies to victims of human trafficking. If you are able to prove that you are a trafficking victim, and that you have suffered abuse, you will generally be eligible to apply for a T visa if you agree to assist law enforcement in prosecuting your tormentors. A T visa does allow you to work, so it can be a stepping stone to adjust status if any previous issues are dealt with.
Ask an Experienced Attorney
It can be very frightening to be victimized, but any interaction with law enforcement can be extra scary when you are undocumented. If this has happened to you, speaking to an attorney can help illuminate what you ought to do next in order to get life back closer to normal. The skilled Chicago immigration attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC are happy to sit down with you and try to suggest where to go from here. Contact us today to set up a free consultation.
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