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Copyright (c) 2011 UC Hastings College of the Law 
Hastings International and Comparative Law Review

NOTE: Immigration, Crime, and Public Perception: Victimization Legislation in the United States and Canada - Can the U Visa Serve as a Model?

Winter, 2011

Hastings International and Comparative Law Review

34 Hastings Int'l & Comp. L. Rev. 203


By Bettina Rodriguez Schlegel*


I. Introduction
The North American giants, Canada and the United States, are recognized as major immigrant-receiving nations; both have been historically reliant on the influxes of immigrant groups over time to provide sources of labor and population boosts to the rapidly developing nations. Both states have crafted immigration policies in line with their economic needs, as well as in response to domestic sentiment and xenophobia. 1 Public perceptions of immigration often associate new arrivals with crime, usually as perpetrators of criminal offenses. 2 However, research indicates that immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants, are victimized precisely because of their status and have a greater propensity to victimization than their "legal" counterparts. 3

In this comparative note, I will examine the realities of the crime/immigrant nexus as documented in both countries. I will then describe the similarities and differences in the United States' and Canada's immigration policy regarding the connection between immigrant communities and crime. More specifically, I will analyze the legislation both countries have in place to aid undocumented immigrants in coming forward with information about crimes.

Significantly, Canada offers temporary residency to people who claim to have been victims of trafficking. 4 In contrast, the United States has promulgated the U Visa, a comprehensive and generous visa program that provides legal status to a wide variety of crime victims, and which can eventually lead to citizenship. 5 Canada, despite its more inclusive approach to immigrants in general, has no such law.

Because of the ...
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