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‘Strong correlation’ between Latinos reporting fewer sex crimes and deportation fears ‒ LAPD

‘Strong correlation’ between Latinos reporting fewer sex crimes and deportation fears ‒ LAPD
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck has warned that undocumented victims of sex crimes might not report them to the police, out of fear that deportations are on the rise under the Trump administration.

During a press conference Tuesday, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said that there is a "strong correlation" between the dramatic drop in violent crime being reported by Latinos and fears of deportation under President Donald Trump’s increased immigration enforcement policies.

According to LAPD crime statistics, there has been a 10 percent decline in reports of spousal abuse and a 25 percent decline of reported rapes among Latino residents compared to the same time last year. Similar decreases were not seen by other ethnic groups in the statistics.

While there is no direct evidence that the decline is related to concerns within the Hispanic community regarding immigration, the Department believes deportation fears may be preventing Hispanic members of the community from reporting when they are victimized,” a statement from the LAPD says.

At the press conference, Beck said he wants to “reiterate the importance of reporting crime to the LAPD and assure the community the focus of our investigations is to create a safer community for everyone,” according to the statement released by the LAPD.

Imagine, a young woman, imagine your daughter, your sister, your mother … not reporting a sexual assault, because they are afraid that their family will be torn apart,” Beck said at the press conference, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Beck was joined by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who also signed an executive directive entitled, “Standing with Immigrants: A City of Safety, Refuge, and Opportunity for All” that day. The directive expands protections for immigrants and prohibits law enforcement from using public resources to cooperate with federal civil immigration enforcement unless legally required to do so.

In February, Garcetti, along with two other city officials, sent a letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), asking them to stop introducing themselves as police. The letter claimed that ICE was undermining the trust built between immigrant communities and local law enforcement.

The statements from Garcetti and the LAPD echo what activists have been warning about Trump’s immigration policies – when immigrants fear deportation, they lose trust in the police and think twice before reporting a crime.

We have entire communities of people feeling like it’s no longer safe or feasible for them to report crime,” said Jacquie Marroquin, director of programs for the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, told the Huffington Post.

At the beginning of March, a coalition of more than 560 groups joined together to send a letter to ICE and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), saying the recent immigration policies “fail to protect immigrant victims of crime, reduce the likelihood of immigrant victims or witnesses reporting crimes, empower traffickers and abusers, contravene existing protections afforded by law, and create unprecedented fear for immigrant families and communities.”

However, Jessica Vaughan, of the Center for Immigration Studies, says that Beck’s claims are "extremely speculative" and questioned the correlation between a drop in reported crimes and the fears of deportation.

"This seems to be somehow politically motivated to try to get people to think increased enforcement is causing problems in the community," Vaughan told the Associated Press. "I think it is really a stretch to connect this decline with perceptions of increased immigration enforcement."

ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice also refuted Beck’s claims, saying that the real problem comes from local law enforcement refusing to follow immigration laws.

The inference by Los Angeles officials that the agency’s execution of its mission is undermining public safety is outrageous and wrongheaded,” Kice said, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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,” she added.