This is a tough questions to answer isn’t it? On a 1999 fishing trip, two bullies threw a third man into New Jersey’s Sandy Hook Bay, knowing he couldn’t swim. The drowning death of Michael Augulis was ruled an accident, and it stayed that way until a Lebanese immigrant came to cops with the truth seven years later. Police and prosecutors say the tip from Charbel Chehoud, who wasn’t involved in the drowning, was so critical to solving the case, he should be allowed to stay in the United States. The feds disagree.
The S visa is granted to those who act as witnesses or informants to federal or state government agencies. The S visa holder is a person providing information regarding crimes and terrorism.
S visas are granted to individuals who possess critical and reliable information concerning criminal or terrorist organizations. Foreign nationals who are holders of an S visa are willing to share this information with federal or state authorities. S visas are also granted to individuals whose presence in the United States is critical to the success of a criminal investigation or prosecution.
The immediate family members of S visa holders are also eligible to receive clearance. The law gives law enforcement agencies the ability to investigate and prosecute certain types of criminal cases, including: domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking of aliens and other crimes while, at the same time, offering protection to victims of such crimes. The law also helps law enforcement agencies to provide assistance to immigrants who are victims of crime.
Alongside the enthusiasm comes criticism from those who wonder why people who broke the law to be here should be granted legal status for doing what most citizens would do anyway. How many Americans are victims of violent crime and don’t get much when the trial is over? What does the illegal immigrant get? A chance to live here as an American. Some say it’s unfair to those people who wait abroad for years for visas that would allow them to immigrate legally.
Jersey City cops urged Immigration and Customs Enforcement to grant him a witness visa, but they must be requested by state or federal agencies.
Chehoud’s lawyer, Carla McBeath, has asked ICE to release him so he can appear in court, finalize his divorce and marry fiancee Veronica Garcia, 39.
While the federal government issues S visas, local law enforcement plays an indispensable role. Police officers must certify the application, confirming that the person has knowledge of the crime; and “has been helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful” in the investigation or prosecution.
The S Visa and other similar visas are important not only to facilitate the resolution of crimes, but also could be used a powerful tool by the government to prevent future crimes. The Immigrants are not getting a free ride, rather a new opportunity for a life in America, isn’t this what our country is all about?