By Zara Rashid (JD ’14)
This spring, the theme for the Center for Public Interest Law (CPIL) annual symposium came from the work of students in Clinical Instructor Sarah Diaz’s new Immigration Advocacy Clinic.
CPIL student assistant and clinic participant Ana Valenzuela said the idea for the immigration forum was generated by student discussions and Professor Diaz’s work with community based organizations. The forum, “Insecure Communities: Addressing Immigration Issues in Illinois,” began with a group of clinical students, including Valenzuela, Geraldine Arruela, Katerin Zurita and Cordia Perez (JD ’14), who provided a brief overview of their clinical project before the panel discussion.
The group’s project focused on investigating and addressing the discrepancies in policies between local law enforcement agencies in the manner in which they choose to certify, or not certify, Form I-918B. This form is required for all U Visa applicants to confirm that they were helpful in the investigation or prosecution of their qualifying crime.
There is no waiver of this form and without it the victim cannot apply for the U Visa. Refusal by law enforcement agencies to issue this certification undermines the dual purpose of the U Visa statute: to serve as a form of humanitarian relief for undocumented victims of crimes and as a law enforcement tool.