Education Benefits for Crime Victims Who Help Law Enforcement

September 27, 2012

Assemblywoman Mitchell bill signed into law by Governor

SACRAMENTO -- AB 1899, introduced by Assemblymember Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) to close a gap in eligibility for higher education benefits for lawful U.S. residents who are victims of human trafficking or other serious crimes, has been signed by the Governor.

The new law affects students who come forward and cooperate with law enforcement to try to apprehend their abusers, having received the U or T visas commonly assigned to victims of human trafficking.  Although on a legal path to permanent U.S. residency, a loop-hole exists in law which prevents such visa-holders from participating in certain higher education benefits.

College students who have survived trafficking can help prevent future abuse when they open up to law enforcement -- cooperation which we should facilitate, said Mitchell, whose bill was adopted by the Legislature with overwhelming bipartisan support, and becomes effective January 1st.

A student should never have to choose between pursuing an education and pursuing justice, noted the Assemblywoman, pointing out that this bill is rare in that its support comes both from groups advocating for immigrants' rights as well as local District Attorneys.

AB 1899 was co-sponsored by the National Immigration Law Center, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the California Immigrant Policy Center.