By Steven Weller, Center for Public Policy Studies and Angie Junck, Immigrant Legal Resource Center
- the potential benefits for immigrant human trafficking victims under federal immigration law;
- the state court role in assisting human trafficking victims who have been coerced into committing criminal acts;
- the uses of state court records by federal immigration authorities when addressing human trafficking victimization;
- ethical issues involving immigrant trafficking victims; and
- the indicators of potential immigrant human trafficking involvement
This chapter discusses the immigration benefits available for human trafficking victims under federal immigration law and how state court matters might affect an immigrant human trafficking victim’s eligibility for those benefits. In particular, state criminal court cases involving immigrant human trafficking victims can either negate the victim’s eligibility for benefits or provide opportunities for the state courts to assist those victims in obtaining benefits.
Along with all the means of coercion available to traffickers discussed in other chapters of this HT Guide, non-citizen status can potentially provide a trafficker with an additional means of coercion through the threat of deportation. Undocumented immigrants are at the greatest risk of being deported, but even non-citizens who are in the United States lawfully may become deportable under federal immigration law in a variety of ways, including by conviction of one of a long list of crimes, some of which may be misdemeanors under state law, overstaying a visa, leaving an employer specified in a temporary work visa, and engaging in certain other activities.
Federal immigration law contains benefits that can provide protection for immigrant human trafficking victims. For undocumented immigrants, the immigration benefits for human trafficking victims provide a pathway to temporary lawful status and ultimately lawful permanent resident (LPR) status. In addition, human trafficking victims who are in the United States lawfully on the basis of temporary status (e.g., holders of temporary work visas and other non-immigrant temporary visas, refugees) may be eligible for benefits to protect them from deportation and to put them on a path to lawful permanent resident status.
This chapter discusses those benefits, their eligibility requirements, and how state court cases can affect a victim’s ability to meet those requirements.