Originally published by Miami Herald
Threats to step up deportation of undocumented immigrants have made them increasingly afraid to report domestic abuse or sexual assault, a national coalition of immigrant-rights and victim-advocates groups said Tuesday.
A survey of 715 immigration attorneys and immigrant-rights activists showed that more than three-quarters of them have heard from clients who are afraid to call the police when they’ve been attacked, a coalition spokesman said during a telephone press conference.
Another 43 percent said their clients have dropped civil suits or criminal charges because they fear that going to court will expose them to immigration authorities, according to the survey. Their fears even extend to calling 911 for medical assistance, the groups say.
“Calling 911 is part of the calculation we’re talking about,” said Qudsia Raja of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. “There’s just this uncertainty and distrust about whether, somehow, this will make the situation worse for them.”
The survey was conducted between April 12 and 25, across 46 states and Washington, D.C. The sponsors included the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence, the ASISTA legal-counseling group, the National Latino Network, the National Network to End Domestic Violence, the Tahirih Justice Center, and the National Domestic Violence Hotline.