Tram Nguyen
Representative | Andover, MA

Equal Access to Justice for Victims and Witnesses of Violent Crimes and Human Trafficking

Idea Category: Criminal Justice, Equity & Opportunity, Public Safety


The U and T visa programs were created back in 2000 with bipartisan support in Congress to benefit both victims and witnesses as well as law enforcement agencies. Certifications from law enforcement agencies assist victims and witnesses in applying for immigrant protections, and facilitate cooperation with law enforcement from communities that are sometimes wary of law enforcement. Victims and witnesses of crime and trafficking have to submit the certification in order to start the application process. While many agencies and jurisdictions have processes in place for victims and witnesses to obtain certifications, many others do not, and several have not encountered these requests before. As a result, many victims will wait years to get a certification, and many will wait indefinitely, not getting a response at all.


This idea increases victim and witness participation in the criminal legal system and promotes public safety and assistance to law enforcement by creating a consistent victim certification process for vulnerable immigrant victims and witnesses of crime and trafficking, and standardizes the process for law enforcement, prosecution, and investigatory agencies to provide victims who have been helpful in an investigation or prosecution of serious crimes, described in the federal Violence Against Women Act, the certification form they need to help them apply for a U-visa or a T-visa. It does not require that a law enforcement agency provide certification. It only requires that a decision be made within ninety days. If there are extenuating circumstances, the agency must provide a written explanation for the delay and projected timeline for the issuance of a decision.