“Unfortunately, a sheriff, police chief, prosecutor, or judge can certify any alien for a U visa for any reason they want to. There is no oversight or control; they can sell certifications if they want to.”
From Jessica Vaughan at CIS.org:
October 17, 2022
Texas Sheriff Hands Out U Visa Certifications to Aid Prosecution in Florida Migrant Transport Case
In a new twist in the case of the illegal border-crossers transported to Martha’s Vineyard, the sheriff of Bexar County, Texas, Javier Salazar, reportedly has certified several of the aliens as crime victims, enabling them to apply for U visas. This is an outrageous, but sadly common abuse of the loosely regulated U visa, and points to why Congress needs to overhaul this program at the earliest opportunity.
The U visa was created by Congress to help law enforcement agencies gain cooperation from illegal-alien victims of serious crimes in order to facilitate prosecution of the offenders. Law enforcement agencies who are investigating or prosecuting certain crimes, such as domestic violence, felonious or sexual assault, FGM, or human trafficking, may issue a certification for an illegal-alien victim who has agreed to assist in the investigation or prosecution.
In this case, it is not clear that a crime has even occurred, much less a crime that is serious enough to qualify for a U visa for these illegal migrants. It appears more as if the sheriff and the migrants’ lawyers are trying to concoct a criminal investigation to reward the migrants and embarrass Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, whose administration transported the migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, avoiding the option for them to settle in Florida, as a large share of new illegal arrivals have done.
Reportedly, the sheriff is considering bringing charges of unlawful restraint, although it’s unclear that there was ever any restraint of the migrants at any point in their journey from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard. DeSantis has insisted that the migrants were not coerced. Judging by the migrants’ statements reported in the media, at worst the migrants possibly were misled by the individual hired to recruit them for the plane trip. Equally likely, they were simply confused about where they were going and disappointed they were not taken to a place where they could begin working right away. One immigration lawyer maintains that since the migrants were given an informational brochure that may have mentioned the word “refugee”, a status that does not apply to the illegal migrants, that information was egregiously misleading and should be considered a form of human trafficking.
This would be laughable if it were not so damaging to what very little integrity exists in the U visa program. Unfortunately, a sheriff, police chief, prosecutor, or judge can certify any alien for a U visa for any reason they want to. There is no oversight or control; they can sell certifications if they want to. The important question is: Will USCIS approve the visas in this case? Said one of my retired federal law enforcement contacts:
Wow, that is going to be interesting to see how unlawful restraint is interpreted. This is insanity. It has to change. I saw agencies try to use unlawful restraint because they knew that a crime of smuggling was not an option [to qualify for a U visa], because the aliens were of course co-conspirators. They negotiated for that trip, like one would for buying drugs or any product or service. Where the area goes gray is, did the alien complete the deal and then was still restrained? Is that in furtherance of a crime (smuggling) they agreed to, or is it unlawful restraint?
We won’t find out for many years to come. That’s because… please read the entire post here at CIS.