AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which issues visas, declined to comment on the suit. “We’re looking at taking our time to ensure that the final regulations we put out are concise and clear and complete,” said USCIS spokesman Chris Bentley. Regulations for a similar visa created under the same law, which allows victims of human trafficking to remain in the United States, were issued in 2002. Schey said there’s no excuse for the government to take this long on the U-visa. Gail Pendleton, a Boston-based immigration attorney and co- chairwoman of National Network to End Violence Against Immigrant Women, said she believes the delay is emblematic of the nation’s ambivalence over immigration. “Undocumented immigrants are being blamed for all the ills of our society, so there is a lot of pressure on the agency on the enforcement side,” she said, “but you also have a Congress that understands the overarching need to help victims of crimes and help the criminal system to get at the perpetrators.” Lawyers for undocumented immigrants who’ve been victims of violent crimes filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against the Department of Homeland Security for failing to issue protective visas Congress created five years ago. The 2000 law approved visas for victims of violent crimes who cooperate with law enforcement investigations or prosecution of crimes. The visas allowed them to remain in the United States and apply for permanent residency after three years. But regulations detailing how to apply for the U-visa were never published, and no visas have ever been issued. “Congress enacted the law with the dual goal of making communities safer … and as a humane gesture to those immigrants who cooperate with law enforcement agents,” said Peter Schey of the L.A.-based Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, one of three groups that filed the suit here. “How can the government expect immigrants to comply with the law when it is not complying with its own laws?” The suit was filed on behalf of nine immigrants from California, Texas and Arizona, including several children. Attorneys in the case are seeking class-action status. People who apply for the U-Visa can obtain “deferred action” status, which offers some protection and allows them to work. But they cannot leave the country, and it’s not clear whether time under the deferred status will count toward permanent residency. As of Tuesday, 3,011 people had requested the deferred action status, including family members of victims, and 2,132 requests were granted, Bentley said. Still, a significant number of immigrants who are already in deportation proceedings are not receiving the deferred action, Pendleton said. And USCIS has done little to publicize the visas, meaning many immigrants don’t know they can apply. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!