A bill in the California legislature would require local law enforcement agencies to sign off on federal U visas if victims have been helpful in investigations. U-Visas are designed to let immigrants report crimes without fear of deportation.
U visas may be federal, but they require local certification that victims have helped with criminal investigations. Some immigrant rights groups in California say law enforcement agencies often won’t sign the visas.
Nubia Gutierrez says she was denied a U visa after being a victim of domestic violence, even though she cooperated with authorities.
"The U visa would have given me a legal status so that I could live and work in the United States," says Guitierrez. "I wanted that protection, not just for me, but more for my children. Like all parents, I want what is best for my children. I want to protect them and help them live a good life."
The California Peace Officers Association has not taken a position on the bill. But the group says it generally opposes measures that impose state mandates because the costs are often not reimbursed.