ICE stepping up deportation of crime victims requesting visas: report

ICE stepping up deportation of crime victims requesting visas: report
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The Trump administration has reportedly stepped up prosecution and deportation of migrants who cross the border illegally and apply for a visa while fleeing acts of criminal violence.

According to The Associated Press, apparent policy shifts at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which the agency has denied, have resulted in many migrants seeking this type of protection being deported before their application process concludes.

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“This is part of a larger trend in this administration of not respecting the individuals who are qualified to apply for immigration benefits while they’re also in removal proceedings," Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute told the AP.

ICE did not respond to a request for comment from the AP about the surge in deportations of so-called "U visa" applicants, but the Department of Homeland Security told the news service last month last month that “there have been no changes to ... policies or procedures regarding the detention of victims or witnesses of crimes.”

U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues about 18,000 U visas per year, according to the AP. As of fiscal year 2018, the agency faced roughly 200,000 applications for the program.

The Trump administration has faced criticism for a zero tolerance policy on illegal entry, implemented earlier this year, which mandates the prosecution and deportation of all undocumented immigrants caught and suspected of crossing the border illegally.

The policy led to the separation of thousands of children, some as young as toddlers, from their families as their parents awaited prosecution before the president halted the family separations via executive order last month.