On June 14, 2021, the Biden Administration announced a new policy intended to ease the tremendous harm of the immigration backlog on immigrant survivors of serious crime. The policy, which specifically affects immigrant survivors eligible for the U Visa, will authorize survivors to work while their applications await final approval.
“We’re hopeful that the Administration’s announcement will make a real difference in survivors’ lives over the next couple of years,” said Zeyla Gonzalez, HRI’s Crime Victims Program Department of Justice Accredited Representative. “The decade-long wait for approval leaves our clients in a painful and dangerous limbo. We applaud this first step in moving toward a more just system for immigrant survivors.”
Together with SMU Law’s Hunter Center, HRI released a report last year detailing the human toll of the backlog on immigrant survivors. Fighting immigration backlogs, including the U Visa backlog, is a key priority of HRI’s client-led advocacy group, HRI Connect. This week, the group authored a letter to President Biden, sharing their hopes that the Administration will prioritize reducing the immigration backlogs. The letter shares, in part:
“We, along with our families at HRI Connect, have been waiting for our immigration cases to be resolved. The wait has been too long and painful; discouragement wears on us at times. Even so, we have faith that your Administration can help us resolve this problem of a long and hard wait, making the process much shorter so that we can stabilize our legal status in this country we call home.”
For the past 20 years, Human Rights Initiative of North Texas has provided legal and critical social services for immigrant survivors of human rights abuses from all over the world. HRI Connect is a group of current and former HRI clients who believe in building a community where everyone feels welcomed and embraced, regardless of who we are, what we look like, or how well we speak English. For more information, visit www.hrionline.org.