False abuse claims allow immigrants to stay in U.S.

A green card, referred to as the U visa, enables immigrants to legally remain in the U.S. and even eventually gain citizenship. Legal and undocumented immigrants alike can submit an application for this U.S. visa if they have been the victim of a particular type of crime, such as domestic violence and stalking, and if they assist law enforcement officials in pursuing the investigation.

The Department of Homeland Security claims the U visa is there primarily to help women and children who have been the victims of such crimes, including sexual assault and human trafficking, but fear to report them to the police for various reasons, such as cultural differences, a language barrier and a lack of understanding of American law.

However Michael Steinberg, a former Arapahoe County district attorney who has become a specialist in the field, claims that the system effectively allows any undocumented immigrant to make a claim of abuse, get an affidavit or restraining order, and get approved for permanent residency and a work permit without actually producing any evidence to back up their allegations.

On his website, Steinberg posted a paper claiming that individuals accused of those crimes are not permitted to give evidence to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, even if their testimony would show the petitioner had undertaken criminal activities, and that the U visa can even stop deportation proceedings. There has been a dramatic increase in applications in recent years, which has critics alleging that the claims are being falsified to allow undocumented immigrants to remain in the U.S.