report image featuring black and white photo of a group of advocates holding up signs for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
Immigrant Inclusion and Racial Justice

November 2022

By Fernando Moreno

The U-visa is a non-immigrant visa provided to non-citizens and their families who have been victims to violent and exploitative crimes, such as domestic violence, sexual assault, felonious assault, and other “qualifying crimes” outlined by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

The U-visa was created by Congress in 2000 as part of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act, to assist law-enforcement agencies in prosecuting crimes committed against individuals who might not come forward because of their legal status. The visa allows recipients to apply for a work permit, apply for public benefits, and eventually a pathway to citizenship. Further, the U-visa is increasingly becoming an important avenue towards immigration relief, especially for disadvantaged and marginalized immigrants who are more exposed to violence in American society.

This report highlights the role that local advocacy infrastructure plays in developing progressive policies statewide, the role this infrastructure makes in shaping U-visa accessibility in the county today, and highlights how local bureaucratic openness to working on the U-visa issue cleared the way for Los Angeles becoming the U-visa capital of the country. In this geographic roulette, Los Angeles is the exception rather than the norm, therefore, critically examining how this came to be (and the barriers) could clear a way for other jurisdictions to improve access for immigrant survivors of crime across the country.

Read our other publications by research area

    Immigrant Integration & Racial Justice

    Our work on immigrant integration and racial justice brings together three emphases: scholarship that draws on academic theory and rigorous research, data that provides information structured to highlight the process of immigrant integration over time, and engagement that seeks to create new dialogues with government, community organizers, business and civic leaders, immigrants and the voting public to advance immigrant integration and racial equity.

    Economic Inclusion & Climate Equity

    In the area of economic inclusion, we at ERI advance academic theory and practical applications linking economic growth, environmental quality, and civic health with bridging of racial and other gaps; produce accessible and actionable data and analysis through the data tools; and establish research partnerships to deepen and advance the dialogue, planning, and actions around racial equity, environmental justice, and the built environment.

    Social Movements & Governing Power

    ERI’s work in the area of governing power includes: conducting cross-disciplinary studies of today’s social movements, supporting learning and strategizing efforts to advance dialogues among organizers, funders, intermediaries, evaluators, and academics, and developing research-based social change frameworks and tools to inform—and be informed by—real-world, real-time efforts towards a vision of deep change.

    Publications Directory

    In 2020, the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) and the USC Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII) merged to form the USC Equity Research Institute (ERI).

    The full list of publications published under our previous and current names can be found in our publications directory.

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