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Domestic Violence Survivors, Prosecutors, and Advocates Condemn Trump Administration’s Targeting of Victims and Witnesses

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A recording of today’s call on Trump’s targeting of victims is available here.

Last week, DHS spokesperson David Lapan defended enforcement actions against immigrants who are victims in courthouses, saying:

Just because they’re a victim in a certain case does not mean there’s not something in their background that could cause them to be a removable alien. Just because they’re a witness doesn’t mean they might not pose a security threat for other reasons.

On a press call today, prosecutors, domestic violence survivors, and advocates overviewed the varied repercussions of Trump’s inhumane immigration policy — including hindering public safety efforts and separating families.

From a public safety point of view to go after crime victims and witnesses makes no sense, and it undermines law enforcement. Yesterday, 180 Maine attorneys urged Sec. Kelly to halt the courthouse raids. According to Gabe Ortiz of DailyKos, ““Lurking at courthouses to arrest immigrants, is shortsighted and not the best way to implement immigration laws,” said Portland City Councilor Pious Ali. “Acts like this will negatively affect the relationship between local law enforcement and the immigrant community and not in the best interest of our community and city.””  A recording of today’s call is available here. Additional resources are available at the end of today’s release.

Anabel Barron, domestic violence survivor and U-visa certified immigrant in Ohio, who was recently placed on an ankle monitor and faces deportation, said:

In May 2013, after 17 years in the United States, I was pulled over on my way to work, leading to deportation proceedings. During the proceedings, I reached out to my ex-husband, the father of my U.S. citizen children. He was supportive and helpful, until one night I went out with coworkers to celebrate. He found out and showed up to my house drunk and held me at gunpoint for ten minutes in front of our children. Those 10 minutes were the worst of my life — I now know what death feels like. Since that night, I’ve worked closely with the police to keep my family safe. I’ve followed all of the requirements of ICE. I work and contribute to my community, and I show up to my mandated hearings. In May 2015, I submitted a U-Visa application, but I still have heard nothing. This past March, I went in for my annual ICE check-in and was given an ankle monitor, because they want to deport me.  I’m scared to go back to Mexico, and I will continue fighting my case under the new Administration. I wish that I was not a domestic violence victim. I wish that chapter of my life didn’t exist, but it does. And now I have to keep fighting against all bullies.

Grace Huang, Policy Director, Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence, said:

The fear of deportation is one of the primary barriers preventing immigrant victims from seeking help. Perpetrators often exploit this fear, using a victim’s immigration status as a tool of control to keep victims silent. Thus, we are dismayed by recent statements by DHS that victims and witnesses at courthouses would not be exempt from enforcement as this will undermine safety not only immigrant victims, but also for our entire community.

 Dan Satterberg, Prosecuting Attorney, King County (Seattle, WA), said:

Criminal justice leaders have worked intentionally for more than a decade to build trust within immigrant communities so that they can report crime and seek our help to end violence and abuse. The language and the actions of the current administration have destroyed that trust and instilled fear in marginalized communities, made up of mostly women and children. The only winners are the violent abusers, who can add fear of deportation to their arsenal of manipulation and intimidation over their victims. The crackdown on immigrants has made our community less safe.

Monica McLaughlin, Deputy Director of Public Policy, National Network to End Domestic Violence, said:

Abusers of immigrant victims often control victims by deliberately misrepresenting the law, confiscating immigration documents, and threatening deportation or taking the children away if victims report the violence. These tactics are bolstered by the current environment in which misinformation abounds and news stories of detained and deported victims play into the hands of perpetrators. The turmoil and lack of clear information and increased enforcement mean that survivors are trying to make decisions and weighing the risks.

 Joanne Lin, Senior Immigration Policy Counsel, ACLU, said:

In its zeal to deport immigrants at all costs, the Trump administration is aggressively arresting immigrants at state courthouses; this endangers public safety and threatens our constitutionally protected rights. The ACLU urges DHS to immediately halt immigration arrests at or near courthouses and live up to its mission of safeguarding the homeland and protecting the public.

Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director, America’s Voice Education Fund, said:

The Trump Administration has transformed the relationship between state and federal law enforcement dramatically in just about 90 days — and they are putting civil immigration enforcement ahead of public safety priorities.  We’re already seeing stories of unreported crimes because immigrants are now afraid to work with law enforcement. Less than 100 days of Trump has undone decades of hard work between state and local law enforcement agencies to build trust with the community and to make clear that public safety is the priority.

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