In an April roundtable on U.S.-Mexico border security, President Trump called asylum seekers and their stories a “scam.” “They’re not afraid of anything … and they say ‘I fear for my life,’ ” he said, according to The Daily Beast. “It’s a scam, it’s a hoax.” Trump also claimed, according to CNN, that “the system is full,” and there is no more room for immigrants.

As a new report from BuzzFeed shows, this means victims of domestic violence are in danger of being deported back to their abusers. Kenia, a 38-year-old mother of two from El Salvador (she gave only her first name to BuzzFeed), was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in May. Following the arrest, she applied for a U visa, which provides undocumented immigrants and their immediate families who are the victims of crimes with a path to citizenship if they work with law enforcement.

As North Texas public radio station KERA reported earlier this week, the U visa is even seen as a source of hope for undocumented residents who were victims of the Aug. 3 mass shooting in El Paso. Immigration attorney Pamela Muñoz told the station that “It is kind of implied that there will be people who are eligible for this.”

Even with likely eligibility, however, the path to actually getting the U visa is difficult, and made more so by the Trump administration.

Kenia has been in the United States since 2004, at which time she sought asylum. She’s worked at a restaurant and taken care of children with disabilities. While she did receive a notice to appear in immigration court in 2004, it had no date or time, so she didn’t show up. The result was a deportation order, one which wasn’t enforced until ICE agents came to her home this May, a full 15 years later. She’s now in an immigration detention center, and her U visa was denied on Aug. 27.

Kenia was terrified, telling BuzzFeed, “What’s the point of a U visa if it doesn’t help people like me,” and, “I just want a chance. … I’m afraid I’ll be killed if I’m sent back to El Salvador.”

Prior to the Trump administration’s immigration policies, Kenia’s deportation order would likely have been paused while her visa application was processed, her attorney, Eileen Blessinger, explained to BuzzFeed.

Unfortunately, according to documents BuzzFeed reviewed, an ICE field office director told Kenia that “in light of ICE’s mission, current ICE policies and enforcement priorities,” there is “no compelling reason” to stop the deportation.

Kenia is not the only one suffering the consequences of the current polices on U visas.

In Lancaster County, Pa., a family is suing government officials, according to local CBS station WHP-TV (CBS-21). The daughter, now 20, who declined to give her name, was brought to the United States at six years old. She was the victim of sexual assault at nine years old, and, as a crime victim willing to cooperate with law enforcement, she’s a candidate for the U visa. Her lawyers, David Freedman and Barley Snyder, told CBS-21 that suing the government was a last resort before she’s made to leave the country.

“If you are a victim of a qualifying crime, they’re very serious crimes, such as sexual assault, you have to cooperate with law enforcement or a prosecutor’s office,” Freedman explained, “and then you have to have the prosecutor or law enforcement agency certify that you’ve cooperated.”

Despite applying three years ago, the Pennsylvania woman’s application remains in limbo, and the threat of deportation hangs over her and her family’s lives. She tells CBS-21, “Our life is literally on pause.”

Attorney Freedman says he wants to know if there is a waiting list that could—at least temporarily—halt deportation.

According to the motion to dismiss, which CBS-21 obtained, U.S. attorneys are arguing that the application delay does not constitute a valid claim, the current wait isn’t out of the ordinary, and the woman will not be receiving special treatment.

In Blessinger’s experience, other of her clients who have applied for U visas have often successfully halted their deportations. They did so following an ICE consultation with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (the agency that grants visas) to confirm that they were good candidates.

Now, as BuzzFeed writer Adolfo Flores explains, “a fact sheet issued this month by ICE on revised policies stated that the agency is no longer required to request a determination from USCIS that they had met the basic requirements for a U visa.”

The fact sheet says that previous consultations with USCIS were a “simple confirmation that the petition was filed correctly and was not a substantive review of the petition. … As the number of U visa petitions submitted increased, this process became burdensome on both agencies and often did not impact ICE’s decisions.” Now that ICE isn’t required to check in with USCIS, the agency has more power in determining whether an applicant gets deported or is granted a stay.

“This is going to affect the entire judicial system, with fewer people coming forward to report crimes and more criminals remaining free,” Blessinger says. “Kenia’s story is not just about Kenia. It’s about how this is going to affect people in general.”

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