Effective January 1, 2019, Illinois’ VOICES Act will take effect. The law requires Illinois law enforcement to submit appropriate paperwork for federal immigration authorities within 90 days after request from a U Visa applicant. U visas are special visas which allow victims of crime in the United States to remain here with lawful status in exchange for assisting in the prosecution of that crime.
State Representative Lisa Hernandez, a Cicero Democrat and sponsor of the bill, was tearful as she celebrated the vote. “What a way to move forward on a pathway to citizenship: to be a victim of a crime. It has been layers of difficulty to try to place the protections on people, everyday people, that deserve it. On top of that, I do represent a community, a district, that has high numbers of undocumented families.”
Andy Kang, executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice Chicago and one of the advocates behind this bill, said, “It’s something that we felt strongly needed to get done. We passed it with bipartisan support.” State Rep. Litesa Wallace, D-Rockford, who supported the measure, said it will protect immigrants who are crime victims, regardless of how they entered the country.
“This is not an automatic pathway to citizenship, but what it is, is empowering individuals in our community who may be undocumented to come forth and talk about crimes that have happened which only moves or serves to make the rest of us, all of us, safer because we’re able to address the crimes these individuals are victims of,” Wallace said. If you or someone you know has been the victim of a crime, and you are concerned about how it effects your immigration status, contact the lawyers at Godoy Law Office today. You can also use our contact page to schedule an appointment here.