SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Rep. Theresa Mah, D-Chicago, recently joined legislators to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of the VOICES Act, a measure aimed at protecting immigrants who are survivors of trafficking, sexual assault and other forms of violence.
“Survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking already face significant barriers in getting their voices heard,” Mah said. “Immigrant women face an even more challenging situation as their immigration status can cause abuse to go unreported.”
The Mah-backed Senate Bill 34 creates the Voices of Immigrant Communities Empowering Survivors (VOICES) Act. Undocumented residents 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 certification confirming that the individual is contributing to or will likely contribute to a criminal investigation. Before passage of Senate Bill 34, agencies were not required to respond to certification requests. With the VOICES Act becoming law, law enforcement and other investigative agencies will need to respond to certifications for U and T visa applications for survivors no later than 90 business days after receiving the request.
“All women facing abuse should have their voices heard and see the perpetrators of these heinous crimes brought to justice,” Mah said. “This proposal will make it easier for immigrant women to work with law enforcement and help us reduce domestic violence, human trafficking and other acts of abuse.”
For more information, please contact Mah’s constituent service office at (872) 281-5775 or firstname.lastname@example.org.