U.S. Law Center

Some fear spike in enforcement may lessen cooperation with police

Crime can happen anywhere and to anyone living in California, regardless of whether they were born here or not. Given the recent spotlight on increased efforts to enforce federal immigration laws, some are worried about how this could affect the ability of law enforcement to properly help victims in their communities.

People who are in the country without the proper authorization may be reluctant to contact police when a crime occurs. In fact, according to the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Police Department has reported a 25 percent decrease in the number of sexual assaults reported by Latino residents since the start of 2017. The number of domestic violence incidents reported by Latinos also dropped during that same timeframe. The Los Angeles area is home to a large Latino population, some of whom may fear being deported if they draw attention to themselves by notifying the police that a crime has occurred.

However, it cannot necessarily be proven that the decrease in reporting is a direct result of immigration enforcements efforts, some point out. Perhaps there are simply fewer crimes occurring. Since many other jurisdictions do not track their crime statistics by the ethnicity of the victim, it is also unclear whether this decrease was seen in other areas of Southern California as well.

In addition, the Sacramento Bee reports that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have reportedly been arresting undocumented immigrants at courthouses around the state. Many criminal prosecutions depend on the cooperation of victims and witnesses. If those who do not have the proper paperwork to be in the country are too scared to testify in court out of fear that they may be arrested, it may lead to some criminals going free. The Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court has asked for this practice to stop.

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