The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that they would no longer be deporting illegal immigrants who are victims of crime.
On Wednesday, the Biden administration issued new guidance instructing ICE agents to cease detaining and deporting immigrants who were victims of crimes — except in extraordinary circumstances.
“This policy update facilitates victim cooperation with law enforcement, enhances ICE’s criminal investigative efforts, and promotes trust in ICE agents and officers enforcing our laws. It is ICE’s commitment to assist victims of crime regardless of their immigration status,” said ICE Acting Director Tae Johnson via a press release.
“Through this approach, we minimize the fear of repercussions that enforcement decisions may have on the willingness and ability of noncitizen crime victims to contact law enforcement, participate in investigations and prosecutions, pursue justice, and seek benefits.”
For years, the U.S. offered a special visa to some immigrants who are crime victims. Survivors of domestic violence, human trafficking, or sexual assault could apply for a U visa, allowing them to remain legally in the U.S. if they helped law enforcement investigate the crime.
But in 2018, during the country’s brief Trump era, those protections were snatched away.
Undocumented victims who are denied a U visa were to receive an order to appear before an immigration judge — the beginnings of the deportation process. Undocumented victims of crime were deterred from reporting crimes, fearing possible rejection of a visa and being hurried before a judge.
The Trump administration worked aggressively to reduce immigration in all its forms.
The visas could be refused for several reasons, including lack of documentation — which is common among the undocumented community.
The Biden administration is quietly reversing Trump’s anti-immigration policies.
The agency said it would now focus on providing “noncitizen victims of crime,” better “access to immigration benefits.”
“This new policy is designed to improve victims’ ability to seek justice against perpetrators of crime, including in cases of human trafficking,” the press release reads.