Immigrants who experience domestic violence, stalking, child abuse and sex trafficking will have a new set of statewide standards in place to guide their applications for certain types of visas.
Wording in the $ 47.6 billion budget that Governor Charlie Baker signed on Friday sets out a process for law enforcement to certify applicants for T and U visas, which give legal status to some victims of trafficking human beings or other crimes that help the authorities to investigate or prosecute the crimes.
The new law requires a decision within 90 days of filing a certification application, sets clear guidelines for victim cooperation and creates uniform surveillance rules, but does not require agencies to approve certification, according to the office of representative Tram Nguyen.
Nguyen, who, along with Representative Patricia Haddad and Senator Mark Montigny, sponsored the bills on which the budget wording is based, said he would encourage victims and witnesses to report crimes and cooperate with law enforcement while eliminating the fear of eviction.
“As a lawyer, I have worked with many survivors of domestic violence, as well as victims of crime, including harassment and abuse,” the Andover Democrat said in a statement. “It is extremely difficult to escape this kind of violence; this is even more true when the victim is an immigrant dependent on his attacker for his legal status in that country. This is how criminals get away with keeping their victims silent and obedient: threatening them with deportation if they speak out, or even try to protect themselves. “
When lawmakers passed the budget, Montigny called the protections “a long time ago” and described them as particularly important “at a time when immigrants have been the target of an intense campaign of fear and attack in our speech. policy ”and where advocates have reported spikes in domestic violence during the pandemic.