child protective services

Texas Stops Issuing U-Visas to Undocumented Child Crime Victims

By Peek & Toland on April 24, 2017

Immigrant children who are abused have been afforded protection thanks to U-visas since 2000. However, that changed last year in Texas when Child Protective Services stopped issuing them.

To make matters worse CPS did not inform those involved in immigrant child protection, reported KXAN.

U Nonimmigrant Visas (known as U-Visas) were implemented in 2000 under the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act. The U-Visa program allows immigrant victims of crime to remain in the United States for up to four years. Their family members are eligible to apply for a green card.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services defines U-Visas as visas for those who suffered mental or physical abuse. They help law enforcement or government officials to prosecute or investigate criminal activity.

U-visas are no longer being issued for children of immigrants in Texas

Texas CPS decided to stop issuing U-Visas last April. The immigrant support network American Gateways said it was not informed of the decision.

Edna Yang, the assistant deputy director, said:

“The fact that they are stopping these certifications means that there are thousands of children that won’t get an immigration benefit and won’t get protection that they really deserve.”

She said the fact CPS had not talked to any of the agencies working with immigrant children about its decision is disturbing.

The Department of Family Protective Services maintained its decision formed part of a routine review and was not related to immigration.

It decided there were more appropriate law enforcement agencies that could issue the certifications

KXAN reported only CPS issued the U-visas in the past. In the four years from 2010 to 2016, it issued fewer than 50 U-Visas in Texas and rejected 22.

A 2010 report from the Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP), stated undocumented children in state care are “more than five times as likely to come into care for sexual abuse.”

Texas Child Protective Services has been criticized for years for being underfunded and failing children it is charged with keeping safe.

The report stated more than 2,800 children at high risk of neglect or abuse were ignored for weeks by state employees. There were reports of dozens of children being killed in foster care.

U-Visas are intended to protect immigrant victims of crime. They are also meant to help law enforcement officers investigate crimes in a sector often unwilling to testify due to their undocumented status. It’s a concern when state agencies retreat from a program of this nature.

If you need advice on U-Visas, please contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Immigration, Visas

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Texas Child Protective Services is Accused of Failing to Help Undocumented Children

By Peek & Toland on March 14, 2017

Texas’ Child Protective Services has been under fire on multiple fronts in recent years. A recent report stated the department rejected requests for help concerning at-risk undocumented children.

A report in the Texas Observer stated CPS has not helped undocumented children who are victims of crime for well over eight months.

Last April, the agency abandoned its policy of giving certifications to special immigration visas. These protect victims of crimes who help law enforcement in an investigation. Attorneys and other advocates who file on behalf of child victims were given no explanation for the sudden policy change.

Glenaan O’Neil, a regional director of immigrant victims’ services at the Texas Civil Rights Project, filed a request for a young victim of domestic violence in May. The department told her it did not process such requests anymore.

Child Protective Services is under fire

Congress set up U nonimmigrant visas in 2000. They provide protection under the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act. The U visas allow immigrant victims of crime to remain in the United States for up to four years while family members can apply for a green card.

Child protection services no longer process U visas in Texas, reports stated.

The Observer report quoted Patrick Crimmins of Department of Family and Protective Services who said the decision in April 2016, to discontinue the certifications was part of a “routine review” of the agency’s protocol, which was in place since 2010.

“The legal department instructed CPS to discontinue the practice,” he said. It concluded certifications are more appropriate for criminal investigative agencies.

Children’s advocates argued the recent ban on issuing certifications leaves an already vulnerable group in a worse situation.

Law enforcement officials like former Austin police Chief Art Acevedo have argued the anti-immigration stance of Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who opposed former President Barack Obama’s reforms, have left undocumented immigrant at increasing risk of becoming victims of crimes.

The criticisms of CPS go further than those related to undocumented children.

Child Protective Services Accused Following Killings

For decades, CPS in Texas has been criticized over underfunding failed to protect foster children from killings.

At the end of last year, the Star-Telegram reported state GOP leaders backed a request to hire 800 more workers. They agreed to grant pay raises to others.

CPS ignored threats to children in multiple instances, leading to many tragedies, according to the article.

Since 2004, a series of deaths of foster children in Texas’ privatized system led to call for change. Judges also criticized child protection services. Legislators increased funding.

The record of CPS is alarming to us as Austin family immigration lawyers. Peek & Toland help people with immigration issues and those charged with crimes. Contact us today at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Criminal Defense, Immigration

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