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Scared to tell

Latinos aren't reporting sexual assault and domestic violence for fear of being deported, LAPD says

Latinos aren’t reporting sexual assault and domestic violence for fear of being deported, LAPD says

Fear of deportation is most likely the reason for the big drop in the number of Latinos reporting sexual assault and domestic violence since the beginning of 2017, the Los Angeles Police Department said at a press conference Tuesday.

LAPD chief Charlie Beck said that sexual assault reporting has declined by 25 percent among the city’s Latinos, and domestic violence reporting by 10 percent since the start of the year, compared to the same period in 2016, when Latinos reported 164 sexual assaults and 1,120 domestic violence incidents.  

No other ethnic groups saw comparable declines.

A recent Pew study estimated there to be 6 million Latinos living in the Los Angeles-Long Beach metropolitan area, more than any other city in the U.S., comprising over 45 percent of the total population. It’s not known how many may be undocumented.

Beck linked the change in crime stats to fear within undocumented communities that coming into contact with police will lead to deportation, saying there was a “strong correlation” to President Donald Trump’s Jan. 25 executive order on immigration and the flurry of enforcement activity in its wake.

“Imagine your sister, your mother, not reporting a sexual assault for fear that their family will be torn apart,” Beck said.

“In L.A. we don’t care what color your skin is, where your parents come from, or what language you speak,” he added. “We are your police department.”

Los Angeles is one of dozens of jurisdictions nationwide that affirmed its status as a sanctuary city following the election of Trump in November — meaning that unless an undocumented individual commits an especially egregious crime, local law enforcement will not give them up to federal authorities.

One of the arguments often made in favor of sanctuary city status is that fear of deportation can prohibit individuals from reporting crimes.

Trump has threatened to withhold federal funds from so-called sanctuary cities or counties. Los Angeles was among the jurisdictions blacklisted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

In February, Los Angeles city officials, including Mayor Eric Garcetti, wrote a letter to ICE asking that its agents stop identifying themselves as “police” when carrying out immigration enforcement activity. They were concerned that undocumented immigrant populations would become scared or distrustful of police as a result.

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