CHICAGO – Aiming to help immigrants who are survivors of crimes but afraid to speak out, state Rep. Jaime Andrade, D-Chicago, is sponsoring legislation to help survivors more easily attain Nonimmigrant U and T visas.

“In a climate where Washington politicians and the alt-right are exploiting every opportunity possible to demean and threaten the livelihood of immigrants, it is crucial that we do all we can to let them know they are not alone,” Andrade said. “If someone is the survivor of abuse, they should and must be helped, regardless of their citizenship status.”

The Andrade-backed Senate Bill 34 would create the Voices of Immigrant Communities Empowering Survivors (VOICES) Act. Currently, nonimmigrants who are survivors of certain crimes resulting in physical or mental abuse, such as domestic violence or human trafficking, may apply for a Nonimmigrant U and T visa. To qualify, individuals need a police department or other agency to provide a certification confirming that the individual is contributing or will likely contribute to the investigation. However, agencies are currently not required to respond to certification requests. Senate Bill 34 would require law enforcement and other investigative agencies to respond to certifications for U visa applicants and T visa applications for survivors no later than 90 business days after receiving the request

“If those who are have been subjected to abuse are afraid of punishment for coming forward, it makes it difficult for law enforcement to carry out their duty to serve and protect,” Andrade said. “This legislation will help restore trust between law enforcement and their communities and do right by those who have suffered harm by those who have been allowed to go unpunished.”

Rep Jaime AndradeRep Jaime Andrade

40th District

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