DENVER, CO– The House today advanced Representative Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez and Iman Jodeh’s bill to standardize statewide protocols for U Visa certifications and ensure that all victims in Colorado eligible for the visa are treated fairly passed the House on third reading by a vote of 41-23.
“The U Visa was created by Congress to promote safe communities and cooperation between immigrant victims of crime and law enforcement,” said Rep. Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez, D-Denver. “Unfortunately, confusion and delays in the process have left already vulnerable victims of crime in perilous and uncertain circumstances. This simple bill would streamline the process to make sure that eligible immigrants get the timely answers and peace of mind they deserve.”
“Between their status as crime victims and the requirement that they cooperate with law enforcement when they may be reluctant to, U Visa eligible immigrants are among the most vulnerable among us,” said Rep. Iman Jodeh, D-Aurora. “The least we can do is make sure they aren’t left in the dark by providing them a timely answer on their certification form. This bill will achieve just that.”
The U Visa was created for victims of certain crimes who have suffered harm and are being helpful to law enforcement in the investigation of the crime. To apply for a U Visa, an immigrant victim needs certification forms signed by law enforcement verifying they meet requirements. Currently, law enforcement jurisdictions have broad discretion in handling these requests with few reporting requirements or deadlines to respond to requests. This has resulted in some agencies simply not responding, or very delayed response times, and a general lack of clarity, leaving applicants in a state of increased insecurity and vulnerability.
HB21-1060 would streamline the application process and set time limits for certifying agencies to either sign or decline to sign the U Visa certification form. The bill would also set additional protections regarding the disclosure of the personal information of immigrants, and would request that annual reports be presented. Finally, the bill also requires that information regarding the U Visa be provided to victims of qualifying crimes.