SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – In light of Donald Trump’s latest attack on victims of abuse and human trafficking seeking refuge in the United States, state Rep. Elizabeth “Lisa” Hernandez, D-Cicero, is calling on Gov. Bruce Rauner to sign legislation that would establish state-level protections to ensure victims of domestic violence and other crimes already in the United States have fair and equal access to Nonimmigrant U and T visas.
“While the Me Too movement has empowered women to step forward and tell their stories, we must ensure that the voices of all women, including women of color and immigrant women, are included,” Hernandez said. “Immigrant women face unique obstacles like language barriers or citizenship anxieties that make coming forward much harder, which is why this legislation is vital.”
In 2000, Congress created the Nonimmigrant U and T visa for victims of certain crimes, who have suffered physical or mental abuse and are willing to provide assistance in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activities. To qualify for the U-Visa or T-Visa, 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, and there is no requirement for them to respond within a specific time frame.
Hernandez worked to pass Senate Bill 34, which would require law enforcement and other investigative agencies to respond to certifications for U visa applicants and T visa applications no later than 90 business days after receiving the request. These certifications would not grant any immigration benefit. Determining visa eligibility still remains the exclusive responsibility of federal immigration officials. Hernandez’s measure passed both chambers with bipartisan support, but awaits action from Rauner before it can become law.
“As state legislators, we have a responsibility to act when the federal government turns their back on our neighbors. So it’s on us to do everything we can to eliminate the barriers that make that make it harder to report assault, harassment, domestic violence and other crimes,” Hernandez said. “I urge Governor Rauner to sign this crucial piece of legislation so that all women are empowered to make their voices heard and hold people accountable for their actions.”
Visit Rep Lisa Hernandez website
229-E Stratton Office Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 558-1844 FAX
2137 S. Lombard
Cicero, IL 60804
(708) 222-5241 FAX