KANSAS CITY, Kan. — One day after a protest, calling for KCK Police Chief Terry Zeigler to be fired for alleged negligence and corruption, advocates are speaking out about another issue.
Immigration attorneys say people who are being raped and assaulted are not getting the cooperation and support they need.
They also say U-Visas are being blocked by the department without any clear reasons why.
“They just send out form letters. They won’t really tell you why,” private immigration attorney Angela Ferguson said.
Ferguson, who’s been practicing law for more than 30 years, said when the U-visa program was created in 2000, it opened doors for many undocumented families around the country and in the KCK community.
“If a victim cooperates with police or prosecutor and helps them with prosecution of criminals, then they are able to obtain a temporary legal status,” Ferguson said.
It was part of an anti-human trafficking law, designed to encourage victims to speak up and cooperate without worrying about getting deported. In order to get one, a law enforcement agency has to certify that the crime victim has been helpful.
Ferguson said she has met with countless individuals who say the KCK Police Department makes it almost impossible to get a U-visa.
That includes a department policy that will not certify for crimes more than 5 years old.
“It is problematic in some communities because the police do not assist some people who are undocumented. The police can set their own policy on whether or not they help,” Ferguson said.
Advocates in Wyandotte County are joining together to shed light on the issue.
“We are here because we want our families to feel safe regardless of color of skin and where they come from, and part of it is trust in KCKPD. This is a sign and unfortunate we are not able to trust them,” said Naomi Tolentino, president of Advocates of Immigrant Rights and Reconciliation.
Tolentino was part of the “March for Justice” on Wednesday night outside the KCK Police Department.
The event aimed to highlight the wrongful imprisonment of Lamonte McIntyre and raise awareness about what protesters call “decades of corruption” within the department.
Tollentino said the U-visa is just another issue plaguing the community.
“We want to take this issue that has been ignored and put in the shadows and bring them out so we can feel safe in our community,” Tolentino said.
FOX4 reached out to KCK in regard to these new claims, but we have not heard back.