Domestic violence is already an underreported crime in the United States and the Trump administration seems to be making it even worse.
Following President Donald Trump’s crackdown on immigrants, the number of arrests made by ICE agents went up drastically. The officers have reportedly arrested undocumented residents from their workplaces, their homes and even outside the courthouses, creating an air of fear outside government buildings and police stations as well.
Now, as it turns out, scores of undocumented immigrants in California have stopped reporting incidents of domestic abuse over fears of deportation, according to a recent report by the Los Angeles Times.
In the first six months of 2017, the number of such reports in the Latino community fell by 18 percent in San Francisco, 13.3 percent in San Diego and 3.5 percent in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, the reporting in non-Latino communities has dropped merely 1 percent in the three cities.
The significant drop has lead analysts to conclude domestic abuse victims are not coming forward and are reluctant to contact authorities because they are afraid they will be arrested and sent back to the country they fled in search of a better life.
“They’re afraid of us. And the reason they’re afraid of us is because they think we’re going to deport them. They don’t know that we don’t deport them. We don’t ask for their immigration status,” Los Angeles County sheriff’s Deputy Marino Gonzalez told the L.A. Times. “They just gotta go based on what they see on social media and what they hear from other people.”
Immigrant nonprofits across the country have been receiving calls from women being abused by their partners, but are not willing to call 911 because they believe their undocumented status will land them in jail and their children will be left to fend for themselves.
“We’re supposed to be that assurance that they don’t have. That safety net,” explained Jocelyn Maya, a program supervisor at a domestic violence shelter named Su Casa in Long Beach, California. “But it’s getting harder for us to have a positive word for them and say: ‘It’s going to be OK. You can go into a courtroom. You can call the police.’”
California recently declared itself a sanctuary state, a move that could help calm deportation fears. However, given the harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric coming from the White House and top members of the Trump administration, this fear is certainly understandable.
Meanwhile, ICE has refuted the allegations that its activities have frightened immigrants from reporting such crimes.
“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s enforcement actions are targeted and lead driven, prioritizing aliens who pose a risk to our communities. ICE becomes aware of these individuals at the time of their arrests and targets them based on their criminal histories," ICE spokesperson Sarah Rodriguez told Newsweek. “The inference by officials that the agency’s execution of its mission is undermining public safety is outrageous.”
Thumbnail/Banner: Reuters, Rebecca Cook