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Elora Mukherjee, Fatma Marouf & Sabrineh Ardalan, Congress's Untapped Authority to Certify U Visas, 124 Colum. L. Rev. F. 43 (2024).

Abstract: A crucial path to legal status for immigrant victims of crimes is the U visa, which Congress established with strong bipartisan support to protect victims of particular crimes who are helpful to law enforcement. Because the U visa was intended to encourage reporting of crimes, the application requires a certification form to be completed by a federal, state, or local authority that is investigating or prosecuting the alleged offense. Arbitrary and inconsistent certification decisions by state and local authorities make it especially important to identify relevant federal authorities that can serve as certifying authorities for U visas. This Piece argues that congressional committees and subcommittees that engage in investigations qualify as certifying authorities under the statute and regulations. To date, these congressional committees have never certified a U visa. The Piece provides three examples of congressional investigations in which U visa certification would be warranted: investigations into medical abuses of detained women, the so-called “Zero Tolerance” family-separation policy, and the use of solitary confinement in immigration detention.