Officials boost efforts to protect immigrant crime victims
U.S. immigration officials are boosting efforts to protect immigrant crime victims with increased funding and greater outreach to publicize visa opportunities for those who assist law enforcement in prosecuting their perpetrators. The stepped-up efforts helped the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services approve the maximum number of visa petitions for this category — 10,000 — for the first time since it began reviewing them in 2008. The so-called U visa grants temporary legal status to those who suffer substantial physical or mental abuse in specified major crimes and help authorities pursue the cases; after three years, visa holders can apply for permanent residency. One of the visa recipients this year is a Mexican immigrant in Los Angeles who was caught in the crossfire of a 2006 gang shooting while selling corn on the streets. He is paralyzed below the waist after a bullet lodged in his spinal cord, an injury that deprived his family of its major breadwinner and caused his two children to quit high school to work.