The sixth anniversary of the signing of the Trafficking Victims Protection Authorization Act of 2000 (TVPA) took place on October 28, 2006. Among other things, this important law allows victims of trafficking to obtain a T-visa and become a permanent resident of the United States and therefore become eligible for much needed benefits and services under state and federal programs. After the conclusion of their criminal case or ninety days prior to the three year anniversary of the issuance of their T Visa, U.S. law provides that T-Visa holders can apply for permanent residence in the United States.
Although to date over 500 T Visas have been issued by the U.S. government, permanent residency has not been forthcoming. Survivors of trafficking and their advocates across the country have been applying for Legal Permanent Resident Status for their clients, as is provided for under the TVPA, however they have been told that their applications cannot be processed until the regulations are issued. Human trafficking survivors are deeply troubled by the expiration of their T Visas and their legal limbo, not knowing if they will gain this legal status and attain other very important rights such as, voting, international travel to finally see their families and loved ones, and achieving the ultimate goal of becoming a U.S. citizen.
It's hard for survivors to understand why the government has not granted them their full rights. As one trafficking survivor explained: "I feel...unbalanced. I don't know how long I have to wait. I have not been able to see my family for nine and a half years. If they issued the regulations, I could see my family again.
It is crucial that the U.S. Government keep its promises to victims, and complete the commitment that was codified in the TVPA.
Here's how you can help:
1. Telephone, fax, email, and/or write a letter to President Bush as well as your Senator or Representative requesting that fair T Visa adjustment regulations be issued immediately.
2. Telephone, fax, email, and/or write a letter to Mr. Emilio Gonzalez, Director, Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security and/or Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff requesting fair T Visa adjustment regulations be issued immediately.
3. Assist in gathering signatures for a petition requesting the Department of Homeland Security to issue fair T visa adjustment regulations immediately. Please contact Stephanie Richard at +1 213 365 1906 ext. 115 for more information about the petition.
4. Donate critical funds and/or your time to organizations that are advocating on behalf of survivors of slavery and human trafficking.
Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST)
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