“Imagine, a young woman, imagine your daughter, your sister, your mother … not reporting a sexual assault,” said LA Police Chief Charlie Beck.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s immigration policies are having yet another damaging effect — preventing victims of sexual assault or domestic abuse from speaking out for fear of deportation.
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck announced Tuesday that both reports of sexual assault and domestic violence by the city’s Latino residents have plummeted, with immigrants concerned they could be at risk for deportation if they interact with police or testify in court.
Beck said reports of sexual assault have dropped nearly 25 percent among the city’s Latino population since the beginning of 2017 compared with the same period last year, with reports of domestic violence falling by 10 percent. Beck added that similar decreases were experienced by other ethnic groups.
“Imagine, a young woman, imagine your daughter, your sister, your mother … not reporting a sexual assault, because they are afraid that their family will be torn apart,” Beck said, as reported by The LA Times.
He made the comments at an event in East Los Angeles, where Mayor Eric Garcetti signed an order expanding the LAPD’s policy against stopping people solely to question them about their immigration status to the Fire Department, Airport Police and Port Police.
“We want to focus on serious crime, but we also want to focus on making more citizens, not more criminals,” Garcetti said, according to The LA Times.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, officials spoke out against the LAPD’s comments.
“The inference by Los Angeles officials that the agency’s execution of its mission is undermining public safety is outrageous and wrongheaded,” ICE spokeswoman Virginia C. Kice said. “In fact, the greater threat to public safety is local law enforcement’s continuing unwillingness to honor immigration detainers. Rather than transferring convicted criminal aliens to ICE custody as requested, agencies, including the Los Angeles Police Department, are routinely releasing these offenders back onto the street to potentially reoffend, and their victims are often other members of the immigrant community.”
Jennie Pasquarella, director of immigrants’ rights for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, on the other hand, said the decline in reporting is an obvious consequence of Trump and ICE’s policies
“I think that these two sets of crimes are very good measures of the impact that the current climate is having on people’s ability to come out of the shadows and report crimes, particularly for these kinds of crimes, which already are underreported,” she said, as reported by The Times.
Victims of domestic abuse are also reportedly dropping charges, fearing they will be deported if they show up to court.
NPR reported Tuesday that four Denver women have withdrawn their pending cases since Jan. 25. That’s because that has actually occurred to women across the country.
On Feb. 9, a woman seeking a restraining order against her abusive husband was arrested by an undercover ICE agent who was seated in the courthouse, explained Lucila Flores Camarena, an assistant county attorney in El Paso, to the LA Times.
Flores Camarena said she was concerned that the presence of ICE agents in courthouses might cause some women to stay with their abusers. She explained that several other women withdrew their requests to seek protective orders; two of them specifically cited the February arrest.
“It’s a really horrific position to find yourself in,” Flores Camarena said. “I can’t feel safe in seeking help from the justice system because I now have this very real threat that I might be deported.”