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First of its Kind Lawsuit in Roanoke City

Written by Hannah Guanti

The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia has begun legal proceedings against the Roanoke City Police Department surrounding their involvement in the handling of UVisa Certificates. RCPD has allegedly denied these visas, in violation of state law. 

This is a first of its kind lawsuit, the client is a victim of domestic abuse that was initially awarded the UVisa status. Jane Doe, cooperated with law enforcement for the prosecution and sentencing of her abuser and it was through this action she was awarded the visa. Now, the ACLU argues that Doe is eligible for re-issuance of her visa or to begin the path to permanent residency or citizenship. 

Despite this, the RCPD ignored Doe’s request for her visa to be renewed, putting her life and citizenship at risk. The attorneys argue this violates Virginia state law unnecessarily and that the law requires officials to respond to these requests. 

The UVisa program is designed to provide temporary assistance to those facing violent crimes or human trafficking. It specifically protects those under harm from individual actors or multinational crime syndicates. 

The Roanoke City Police Department has an obligation to respond to or justify their actions surrounding UVisas. Ignorance of this allows the original petitioner to bring this to the appellate court. 

The trial is expected to take place in April, but the city has since recognized the communication and institutional errors that brought upon this legal action. The RCPD statement indicates their commitment to continue overseeing the process of UVisas in the city.