How the Trump administration's mass deportation policies are creating a safe haven for abusers
The Trump administration has been a safe haven for abusers as its anti-immigrant policies have created a safe haven for others who also prey on the vulnerable, like undocumented immigrants. WNYC reports that applications for a type of visa given to immigrants who have been victims of crime or witnesses to crime are down, and advocates believe it’s because the administration’s mass deportation platform has simply made them too afraid to step forward.
”In 2017, 2,664 people applied for U visa certification from New York City agencies and authorities, including the family courts and district attorneys,” the report said. “But last year, that number fell to 2,282—a drop of 14 percent.” Terry Lawson of Bronx Legal Services said, “everybody is aware of what’s going on.” She works with victims of domestic violence and believes abusers are using deportation as a threat. “If you file an order of protection against me, I’m going to call ICE.”
While these statistics are more recent, reports indicating that immigrants have been too afraid to say when they’ve been victims of crime stretch back to the very beginning of the Trump administration. “During a press conference in early April, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo announced a 42.8 percent drop in the number of Latinos reporting rape to his department compared to the same period last year,” the Houston Chronicle reported in 2017.
Unshackled federal immigration agents have also stalked and arrested immigrants at courthouses, a terrifying prospect for undocumented victims of crime who wish to take action against their abusers. “People are regularly telling their attorneys that they’re afraid that they’re going to get arrested,” Lawson continued. “They’re afraid that ICE is going to be in the courthouses or around the courthouse in the Bronx and this is true in other boroughs as well.”
The practice of arresting immigrants at courthouses—which, by the way, should be designated “off-limits” to ICE like schools and churches—has earned the sweeping condemnation of judges and legal advocates alike. Late last year, nearly 70 former judges called for walling off ICE from courthouses, writing that “surveys of law enforcement and legal service providers, confirm that ICE’s reliance on immigration arrests in courthouses instills fear in clients and deters them from seeking justice in a court building.”