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Round-Up: Across the Nation, Immigrants Are Too Afraid of Deportation to Report Crime

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Every day, we see more reports of mass deportation from Donald Trump’s Administration, whether it’s a Dreamer who is being threatened despite DACA or a father who has been checking in with ICE for years — only to suddenly be told to buy a plane ticket “home” after spending decades in the US.

Mass deportation comes at a very real cost to public safety for everyone: for one, they take up limited enforcement resources that could be used to punish and prevent serious crimes. Furthermore, when immigrants become afraid of the police, they stop reporting crime, providing tips, and serving as witnesses in court cases. Below is a list of instances around the country that illustrate why policies that make immigrant communities fearful are damaging for everyone:

Houston, Texas: Latinos have stopped reporting rape and other crimes. The number of Latinos reporting rape is down 42.8% from last year, while Latinos reporting other violent crimes has dropped 13%. This is during a time period when the rate of non-Latinos reporting rape and other violent crimes has increased.

Los Angeles, CA: Latinos have stopped reporting sexual assault and other domestic violence crimes. Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said reports of sexual assault have dropped 25% among the city’s Latino population since the beginning of 2017 compared with the same period last year, adding that reports of domestic violence have fallen by 10%. Similar decreases were not seen in reports of those crimes by other ethnic groups.

Denver, Colorado: Four women dropped domestic abuse cases after Trump announced an executive order on immigration. Said Denver City Attorney Kristin Bronson: “We had pending cases that we were prosecuting on their behalf and since January 25, the date of the president’s executive order, those four women have let our office know they were not willing to proceed with the case for fear that they would be spotted in the courthouse and deported.”

Florida: Immigrants are avoiding calling the police, reporting rapes, or participating in court cases. As Sophia, a DREAMer, said: “I know people who have been raped and don’t call the police because they are scared because they are undocumented…They are terrified of being deported. They are terrified of a lot of things. People are scared to talk to the police, and that will create more crime.

Dallas, Texas / Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: A FiveThirtyEight analysis of data from three major cities — Dallas, Denver and Philadelphia — supports the notion that immigrants, or Latinos more generally, could be reporting fewer crimes since Trump took office. Two of those cities — Denver and Philadelphia — have seen a marked decline in crime reports1 from Latinos relative to those from non-Latinos in the first three months of 2017. Dallas, meanwhile, has seen a decline in Latino crime reports in immigrant-heavy neighborhoods.

Massachusetts: At Boston Medical Center, a woman seeking medical help fled after the front desk receptionist asked for her name and identification, while in Chelsea, victims of domestic violence are so afraid of deportation that they are reluctant to file restraining orders against their abusers.

Long Island, NY: In Nassau County, Long Island, the district attorney’s Office of Immigrant Affairs tip line for crime victims used to get up to 10 calls a week. But it has had none since December.

Wisconsin: And at End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin, which helps about 700 women a year get restraining orders against their partners, the requests this year have dropped to almost zero.