Immigrant Women Aren't Reporting Abuse Because of Deportation Fears

Just as intended, the Trump’s administration’s nakedly xenophobic policies have sent shockwaves of fear and trepidation across immigrant communities. Anecdotal and researched reports show immigrants are increasingly less likely to report crimes they experience or witness. Survivors of domestic violence, a crime already underreported by immigrants, are left feeling particularly helpless. Faced with the non-choice of abuse or deportation, frightened immigrants are avoiding both cops and courts, according to a new survey.

Seven national groups dedicated to ending domestic violence and sexual abuse collaborated on the study, which polled “victim advocates and attorneys in 46 states and the District of Columbia.” The immigrant service providers were questioned about how their work with survivors has been affected by anti-immigrant sentiments and policies pushed by this administration. The results indicate that Trump’s nationalist campaign has made survivors justifiably scared to seek help.

Of the 715 advocates polled, 62 percent said there has been an increase in “immigration-related questions from survivors.” Nearly 80 percent of respondents stated immigrant abuse survivors report “concerns about contacting police.” Three-quarters, or 75 percent, of advocates said their clients are wary of appearing in court for issues connected to their abusers. And 43 percent of advocates said they had worked with a client who ended a civil or criminal case out of fear of detainment and deportation.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency recently announced a 37 percent rise in undocumented immigrant arrests during Trump’s first 100 days in office, compared to the same period under President Obama.

Survivors of domestic violence are likely aware of recent news reports involving increased deportations. In Texas, an undocumented woman was arrested as she attempted to file a restraining order against her abuser. Four women in Colorado who were “victims of physical and violent assault” dropped pending cases of domestic violence.

“[S]ince January 25, the date of the president's executive order [on immigration], 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," Denver city attorney Kristin Bronson told NPR.

There are also reports of unscrupulous operators capitalizing on the fear the Trump administration has perpetuated. In Maryland, the defense attorney for a man facing rape charges offered the undocumented survivor $3,000 not to show up in court.

"You know how things are with Trump's laws now," an accomplice reportedly told the victim's husband, according to court papers cited by the Baltimore Sun. "Someone goes to court, and boom, they get taken away." 

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