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Trump’s Indiscriminate Immigration Policy Means Silence from Abuse Victims, Exploited Workers

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It’s become clear that Donald Trump and the Department of Homeland Security under Sec. John Kelly are conducting indiscriminate immigration raids that detain everyone ICE can get their hands on — rather than just sweeping up “bad hombres”. Much has been written about how a lack of clear deportation priorities make all Americans less safe. Below are two stories from this week underscoring this point:

Denver city attorney forced to drop domestic violence cases

In Denver, the city attorney has been forced to drop four domestic violence cases because their undocumented victims were too afraid of deportation to pursue the cases. As the city attorney Kristin Bronson told Slate in an interview:

These women were violently assaulted. Police had been called out and arrested the abusers under our municipal code. We were proceeding with prosecutions and headed toward a trial. But after the president issued his executive order on Jan. 25, all four women called our office. They told us they were unwilling to continue participating in their cases because they feared deportation. They were concerned that if they continued to pursue their claims—and especially if they were called to testify—their identity, address, and location might become known to ICE.

Several of these women may have seen a video recently taken in the Denver courthouse showing ICE agents in plainclothes waiting outside a courtroom to make an arrest. That video was widely disseminated and caused a great deal of fear and anxiety in our immigrant and refugee communities. But some of the calls came in before the video…

It’s frustrating to us because we feel that ICE agents have alternatives to going into sensitive areas like courthouses. If there’s a violent or dangerous felon out there, we’d much prefer that agents go to federal court and obtain a warrant for that person’s arrest rather than trying to surprise them or catch them without a warrant…

I think the expansion of immigration efforts to include nonviolent or nondangerous individuals really jeopardizes families and child welfare. We have undocumented individuals who are here in the U.S., perhaps trying to pursue legal status but in any event contributing to society and not hurting anyone. And the idea that they may be deported and separated from their U.S.-born children concerns us greatly, first because we are a welcoming and inclusive city and second because when you deport an undocumented parent of U.S.-born children, those children frequently end up being taken care of by taxpayers. Many times, family members or friends of the deported parents are afraid to step forward and take care of the children because they might be deported. So the children are placed in foster care or protected by the safety net of the city and our services.

How Trump’s crackdown silences undocumented workers

At Huffington Post today is an article about how the Trump administration is making immigrant workers less likely to come forward when they’ve been cheated out of wages or are forced to work in dangerous conditions. When indiscriminate immigration policies lead immigrant workers to not speak out, standards are driven down for all workers in that industry. From the Huffington Post:

“There’s a lot of fear out there, and it’s driving workers further underground,” said Christopher Williams, a Chicago attorney who handles wage theft cases involving immigrants. “I honestly think it’s creating an incentive to hire more undocumented workers, because now they’re even more vulnerable to being exploited.”…

If workers are even more afraid to come forward during the Trump era, she added, “It just means more workers will get hurt and companies will get away with cutting corners.”

Worker advocates are concerned that cutting corners will become easier under Trump. Career civil servants in the federal government investigate companies for violations, but political appointees atop agencies like the Labor Department set the priorities. Notably, since Trump took office, the Labor Department has stopped issuing press releases detailing wage and safety investigations.