Undocumented Immigrants Are Too Afraid To Report Domestic Abuse Out Of Fear Of Being Deported
Undocumented immigrants, in essence, are living in seclusion. Since the election of Donald Trump, and the increase in detainments by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), undocumented immigrants aren’t leaving their homes, aren’t going to schools, aren’t going to visit the doctor and are not seeking any kind of help, even if their life is in danger, because of their fear of being deported.
According to The New York Times, various cities with high Latino populations throughout the United States have seen a significant decrease in domestic abuse reports.
Worried about deportation, undocumented women are holding back from reporting domestic abuse and rape. In Houston, domestic violence reports are down 16 percent among Latinos. In Los Angeles, reports of sexual assault are down 25 percent. https://t.co/2n784Mqxor
— Hannah Dreier (@hannahdreier) June 3, 2018
Not only are immigrants (both undocumented and documented) not calling the police on their domestic partner if they experience abuse, but they are not calling to report crimes at all.
For example, in Houston, where the Latino population continues to grow, domestic violence reports among Latinos were at 7,460 in 2016. Last year, only 6,273 domestic violence reports from Latinos were filed.
“Undocumented immigrants and even lawful immigrants are afraid to report crime,” Houston police chief, Art Acevedo, told the newspaper. “They’re seeing the headlines from across the country, where immigration agents are showing up at courthouses, trying to deport people.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), homicide is one of the leading causes of death for women aged 44 years and younger.
In 2015, homicide caused the death of 3,519 girls and women in the United States. The CDC also reports that nearly half of victims are killed by a current or former male intimate partner. Black women, followed by Latinas, have the highest rates of death by homicide.
“He told me nobody would help me, because I don’t have papers,” a 38-year-old Latina told the New York Times. “I was with him like that for a pretty long time. I felt like there was no help for me.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) surveyed police officers on the matter and found that 22 percent said immigrants were less likely in 2017 than in 2016 to call the police to file a report.
Also, 21 percent of officers said immigrant crime survivors were less likely to help in investigations when police arrived at the scene of a crime, while another 20 percent reported that they were less likely to help in post-crime scene investigations and 18 percent said immigrant crime survivors were less willing to work with prosecutors.
Last year, a transgender woman living in El Paso, Texas made national news after she reported her partner to the police for domestic abuse. During a court hearing, ICE ended up detaining her because she was undocumented.