Imagine you are a woman who was just violently raped. You are laying on the ground bleeding because your attacker decided he wanted to beat you before forcing himself on you. When he leaves, you are afraid for your life and you just want someone to help you. So, you do what you have always been told, you reach for your phone and begin to dial 911, but then you stop. Suddenly, you realize you are an undocumented immigrant living in a country ruled by a man who wants nothing more than to deport you. Now, not only are you suffering from the injuries of your brutal sexual assault, you don't reach out for help because of the fear of deportation. You feel completely hopeless in a country founded on "liberty and justice for all."
It sounds unbelievable doesn't it? That doesn't happen in America!
Unfortunately, not only does that already happen, it's happening more often now thanks to Donald Trump and his rampant xenophobia:
Los Angeles — The police chief of Los Angeles, a city that is half Latino, found himself in the middle of the national immigration debate on Wednesday after saying there’s a correlation between the Trump administration’s call for stiffer immigration policies and a drop in the number of Hispanics reporting sexual abuse and domestic violence.
“Imagine your sister, your mother, not reporting a sexual assault for fear that their family will be torn apart,” Police Chief Charlie Beck said Tuesday.
According to crime statistics, 2017 has seen a 25 percent drop in the number of sexual assaults reported to the LAPD by Latinos. There has also been a 10 percent decrease in the number of domestic violence cases reported to the police. Sheriff Beck also explained that similar decreases were not seen among other ethnic groups. This led the police chief to the conclusion that there is a "strong correlation" between the decrease of reported crimes and the climate of fear within the Hispanic community.
Jorge-Mario Cabrera, of the immigrant advocacy group CHIRLA, agrees with the chief, saying,"We are seeing immigrant families potentially being so afraid of the ultimate punishment, which deportation represents, that they may forego their chances of justice. That’s just horrible and unthinkable.”
ICE spokeswoman Virginia C. Kice, however, disagrees. In a statement released on Tuesday she said:
"The inference by Los Angeles officials that the agency’s execution of its mission is undermining public safety is outrageous and wrongheaded. 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.”
Just to be clear, Kice is angry that the LA officials have refused to participate in the "Secure Communities" and 287(g) programs with ICE; but in her rush to sway public opinion, Kice has completely mischaracterized the programs.
When law enforcement officials enter into those agreements with immigration, it is not just "convicted criminals" who are deported. Every single time an immigrant is arrested, an immigration hold is placed on them. That means a crime as minor as driving without a license could lead to deportation, before a conviction is ever handed down by the courts. And, if you recall, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio used the 287(g) program to arrest and detain immigrants who were not committing any crimes at all and in some cases, victims of crimes were detained and removed from the country. In other words, the possibility of victims of crimes being deported is increased when a law enforcement department participates in the programs Kice is talking about.
The reality that people are actually too afraid to call the police is not at all surprising. Rape is already one of the most underreported crimes, adding the extra fear of deportation to the mix is, of course, going to lead to a whole lot of victims suffering in silence. In turn, the perpetrators of the crimes are free to roam the streets and victimize more people.
So, while the president's anti-immigrant propaganda may seem peachy to the average racist who wants to take his or her country back from the evil brown people with the funny accents, these policies actually put us all at risk.
If this is what making America great again looks like, I think I'll pass.
Author's note: If you (or someone you know) are an undocumented immigrant who has been the victim of a violent crime, please report it. There is a special visa, called a U-Visa, available to people (and their immediate family members) who have suffered substantial physical or emotional abuse and are willing to help law enforcement officials investigate or prosecute a crime. Don't be afraid to ask for help.