When I first heard from the prosecutors that people were filing false reports of crimes in the hopes of getting the benefits of a U visa, I was skeptical.  How would they even know about it?  Would they really risk pretending to be a crime victim to hope for immigration benefits?  What if they get caught, won’t they then have a criminal record and be worse off for false reporting conviction, which is a crime of moral turpitude (on ICE’s naughty list)?

Then I met several people, and an increasing number, who know about, talk about and ask about the U visa.  So what is it?  In short, it is a special immigration program allowing up to 10,000 victims of serious crimes to stay in the US and obtain permanent residence in exchange for cooperating with law enforcement to solve the crimes.  And yes, folks, some of the crimes are real.  And some are set up.

Let’s say you are a young buck whose uncles brought you here to work and they now feel sorry for you.  You are in constant fear of deportation and cannot get ahead.  Wouldn’t it be great if you were documented, and could study and get a good job?  One of the uncles is sick and tired of the life here anyway and plans to go to his home country and never come back.  So he agrees to “beat up” the nephew, who is now a victim of serious assault.  No broken bones, but a black eye and lots of bruises.

True story?  Interpreters never know for sure.  But I have certainly heard several variations of this U visa tale.  Do I judge those who hear about the U visa and figure hey worth a try?  No.  Because if I had to flee my country with my kids, and they faced a risk of death or torture if they were deported, I would smack the hell out of them if it saved them from worse.  No question.  I would happily eat prison food followed by deportation if it saved them.  It would make perfect sense and I would consider it a moral imperative.

But what a sad world we live in where families get to a point of beating up their loved ones in the hopes of helping them.  It is just sad all the way around.