- Published: Thursday, April 21, 2016 08:46 PM
SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) secured passage today of legislation allowing foreign-born victims of torture or human-trafficking to become eligible for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and food stamps (SNAP) while waiting on the federal government to process their asylum applications. The process to obtain a visa to remain legally in the U.S. can take months or even years for these individuals, and while they wait, they are not authorized to work or access federal benefits.
“America can take pride in opening her arms to individuals who have been victims of horrific crimes and are seeking a land of safety and opportunity,” said Collins, who has sponsored numerous laws aiding human trafficking victims during her service in the Senate. “We can carry on this welcoming tradition here in Illinois by assisting those affected – many of them women and children – while their cases are being evaluated.”
The average processing time for a T Visa (issued to foreign-born victims of human trafficking) is five months; for a U Visa (issued to those who have been victims of torture or other serious crimes, as well as their immediate family members), the average wait time is 16 months.
Collins worked with the Heartland Alliance, EverThrive Illinois, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and the Office of Attorney General Lisa Madigan to draft and pass the legislation, which now goes to the House for its members’ consideration.