NEW YORK TIMES: Illegal Alien Women Fear to Report Abuse because President Trump Will Deport Them
May 02, 2017, 09:04 AM
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For the Sob Story File: a Mexican woman illegally residing in the US fears reporting her husband’s abuse because she might get deported. Cristina had begun the process of applying for a “special visa for victims of abuse” — the U visa — but stopped because of her mistrust of the American legal system.

Just how sorry are we citizens supposed to feel for a woman who won’t avail herself of remedies offering by the US government for her situation?

The New York Times articles does mention the U visa specifically — a subject which I investigated in a 2007 article: Victim Visas—How America Stupidly Rewards Misfortune and Fraud. It still seems like a dumb idea for the government to offer legal visas to people whose only qualification for eventual American citizenship is being a crime victim, but that opportunity is indeed enshrined in law. If illegal aliens don’t use it, then tough.

Findlaw has a description of the goodies available for non-citizen crime victims:

The ‘Domestic Violence Green Card’: Immigrant Visa Petitions for Victims

If you’re the victim of domestic violence and you’re not a United States citizen or permanent resident, you may be eligible to file your own application for what is commonly called a “domestic violence green card.” Typically, green cards (permanent resident status documents) are obtained when a family member or an employer sponsors an immigrant’s application to reside in the United States on a permanent or long-term basis.

However, if you’re residing in the U.S. and suffering as a victim of domestic violence, you are able to self-petition for a green card under a provision of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). If you’re not currently residing in the U.S. but your abuser is an employee of the U.S. government or a member of the uniformed services, you can still file for your own green card if you were abused by a U.S. citizen or permanent resident while present in the United States. Finally, if you’re an illegal immigrant suffering domestic violence, you aren’t immediately eligible for the “domestic violence green card” but you can still receive protection from the government if you qualify for a special non-immigrant visa called a U visa.

Below, immigrants become naturalized American citizens, a much-desired status for illegal aliens.

A 2011 article in the Daily Mail (UK), titled The ‘crime visa’: How 18,000 illegal immigrants got legal status by being the victim of a crime, reported that at that time 14,000 of their relatives were also covered by the U visa which had an acceptance rate of 77 percent. The piece further observed, “While many immigrants may still be unaware of the U visa, word is spreading fast in some communities.”

So the U visa for non-citizen crime victims is an accepted practice, not some oddball offshoot of immigration law that doesn’t work. So why does the New York Times drone on at length about illegal aliens freaking out that they might get a free ride home to their country of citizenship? It is simply an excuse to impugn the new president as the architect of Fear among suffering foreigners. It seeks to conflate a single instance of a women being arrested by ICE “moments after she received a protective order” into a whole trend.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands have been protected by U visas. If that visa category is really so ineffective, then perhaps the government should end it as also being a bad policy from the start because it rewards foreign crime victims but there are no comparable advantages given to US citizens who have also experienced violent crime.

Too Scared to Report Sexual Abuse. The Fear: Deportation., New York Times, April 30, 2017

LOS ANGELES — Cristina’s husband had hit and threatened her repeatedly for years, she said, but it wasn’t until last year that she began to fear for the safety of her young children, too. Reluctantly, she reported him and filed a police report.

Cristina, an immigrant from Mexico who arrived in the United States as a teenager in the 1980s, began to apply for a special visa for victims of abuse that would set her on a path to citizenship and her own freedom. Then last month, she told her lawyer that she no longer wanted to apply. She was too fearful, she said, not of her husband, but of the government.

“I am scared they will find me,” Cristina, who lives in a suburb of Los Angeles, said in an interview, asking that her last name not be used.

Domestic violence has always been a notoriously difficult crime to prosecute. It often takes victims years to seek help, and they frequently have to be persuaded to testify against their assailants. And for many undocumented victims, taking that step has become exceedingly difficult because of fears that the government will detain and deport them if they press charges, according to law enforcement officials, lawyers and advocates from across the country.

Since the presidential election, there has been a sharp downturn in reports of sexual assault and domestic violence among Latinos throughout the country, and many experts attribute the decline to fears of deportation. Law enforcement officials in several large cities, including Los Angeles, Houston and Denver, say the most dangerous fallout of changes in policy and of harsh statements on immigration is that fewer immigrants are willing to go to the police.

The number of Latinos reporting rapes in Houston has fallen by more than 40 percent this year from the same period last year, Art Acevedo, chief of the Houston Police Department, said this month. The drop, he added, “looks like the beginnings of people not reporting crime.”

In Los Angeles this year, reports of domestic violence among Latinos have dropped by 10 percent and reports of sexual assault by 25 percent from a year ago, declines that Charlie Beck, the chief of the Police Department, said were likely due to fear of the federal government. Dozens of service providers and lawyers interviewed said immigrant women were deciding not to report abuse or press charges.

“We’ve always told our clients that even if you are undocumented, you don’t need to worry about it — the officers are going to protect you,” said Kate Marr, executive director of the Legal Aid Society of Orange County, Calif. The level of fear now, however, is unlike anything Ms. Marr has seen in her nearly two decades of work with domestic violence survivors, she said.

“Everything we’ve ever told our clients is out the window,” she said. “It’s so demoralizing and so frightening to imagine what happens if it continues.”

The fear among immigrants was exacerbated by a case in El Paso, where Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested a woman in February moments after she received a protective order against the man she said had abused her. The United States Commission on Civil Rights, a bipartisan independent agency, urged federal officials this past week to reconsider their courthouse arrest tactics. The agency said the Texas case and other courthouse arrests were having a chilling effect on immigrants throughout the country.

The Department of Justice declined to comment on the concerns about increased fear among immigrants.

Laura’s House, which helps hundreds of victims of domestic violence in Orange County each year, routinely asks clients about their immigration status so it can help them apply for visa protections if necessary. Under what is known as a U visa, victims of certain crimes receive permission to stay in the United State if they assist the police — and the promise of the visa often persuades victims of sexual assault and domestic violence to come forward.

Previously, nearly half of the more than 70 new cases that Laura’s House received each month came from undocumented immigrants. In the last three months, that number has dropped to less than one a week.

Many women share the concerns of April, 23, who waited for years before pressing charges against the father of her children and who asked that her full name not be used.

“I would call the police and use another name or make a neighbor call,” said April, who came across the border from Mexico when she was about 8 and lives in Orange County. “When he came after me, he’d say that I would get sent back to Mexico and never see my kids again. I believed him for a long time.”

Capt. James Humphries, who oversees the special victims investigations division in Montgomery County, Md., said he saw the willingness to report drastically backsliding in the county, where immigrants make up a large portion of the population. His unit has received roughly half the calls for sexual assault and domestic violence this year that it did in the same period last year, he said.

“It’s a constant challenge for us to reassure the community that the way we work has not changed and that the White House cannot dictate to us how to police,” Captain Humphries said. “It affects all crimes across the board, but if you don’t have domestic victims coming forward, the reality is that they do not trust the police.”

However, Sheriff Chuck Jenkins of nearby Frederick County, Md., has been a vocal proponent of strict immigration enforcement and said he had seen no evidence of decreased crime reporting among the immigrants there.

“They don’t want to be victimized by anyone else,” Sheriff Jenkins said. “Nothing that we do on the streets has anything to do with immigration status, and folks in the immigrant communities, both legal and illegal, are smart enough to know that.”

Still, others who work with victims say the impact of the fear is difficult to overstate.

In Austin, Tex., the nonprofit organization Stop Abuse for Everyone provides forensic exams for sexual assault survivors, and more than half of the clients are Latino. While the organization does not have precise numbers, Kelly White, the chief executive, said that fewer rape victims were coming forward this year, and that many call the organization’s hotline for support but say they do not want to contact law enforcement.

In Nassau County on Long Island, N.Y., the district attorney’s Office of Immigrant Affairs tip line for crime victims used to get up to 10 calls a week. But it has had none since December. And at End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin, which helps about 700 women a year get restraining orders against their partners, the requests this year have dropped to almost zero, the lead attorney there said.

The Los Angeles County Domestic Violence Council typically received about a half-dozen calls a week, with at least half from Spanish speakers. But since January, it has received only two calls, said Olivia Rodriguez, the executive director.

“This is not normal,” Ms. Rodriguez said. “They assume that if they call a government entity it’s all connected, that they will be reported to ICE and sent away. So instead they are just taking the abuse.”

Yanet, 56, who asked that her last name not be used out of fear of deportation, said she had endured more than a decade of abuse from her husband in El Salvador, where victims of assault have little recourse, before she decided to flee to the United States several years ago. She mostly worked as a cook in Los Angeles kitchens and in 2005 tried to obtain a visa meant for women escaping violence.

But the lawyer she went to tried to force her to perform oral sex in exchange for his help, she said. Yanet initially worried about reporting him to the police, but she did file a report after deciding she would not be victimized again. Now she is reluctant to move ahead with both the charges and her visa application.

“Every day I am scared that something will happen and afraid to even walk out of the door,” she said. “Doing something to get the attention of the government is worse. I don’t know who to believe or what is safe to do to protect myself.”

Worries over deportation will only increase the feelings of fear and isolation for victims of sexual assault or domestic violence, said Wanda Lucibello, a former prosecutor in the Brooklyn district attorney’s office.

For years, Ms. Lucibello said, the office and other local law enforcement worked to make people feel comfortable that they could report crimes without fear that they would then become a target for deportation. Under the Obama administration, victims of crime were not considered a priority for deportation, and many local law enforcement agencies went out of their way to make inroads with immigrants.

“When you’re talking about immigrant communities, you’re talking about perceptions and whether those perceptions are accurate or not,” Ms. Lucibello said. “If the perception is that there is a greater risk if you go to the police, you are going to be less likely to do so, and you are more likely to stay in an abusive relationship until you need to seek treatment at a hospital.”

She added: “It’s really the opposite of what anyone should want. All of this strengthens the abusive partner.”