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Homeland Security department sued for failing to issue protective visas

[JURIST] Attorneys representing undocumented immigrants who have been victims of violent crimes filed a federal suit against the US Department of Homeland Security [official website] Tuesday for the agency's failure to issue U-visas. The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 [PDF text], allows the US Citizen and Immigration Services [official website] to issue undocumented immigrants substantially harmed by criminal activity [statutory definition] and who cooperated in the investigation of the crime a U-visa authorizing the holder to stay and work in the US. If the undocumented immigrant then holds the U-visa for three years and meets several other requirements he or she may apply for permanent legal residency in the US. To date, regulations pertaining to the application process have not been published and no U-visas have been issued. However, people who do apply for a U-visa can also obtain "deferred action" status, allowing them to work but not to leave the country. It has not yet been decided whether time spent under "deferred action" status will count towards the three years requirement. The plaintiffs in the current case are nine undocumented immigrants living throughout the southwest, but the attorneys in the case are seeking class action status. AP has more.

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