Fear of Deportation May Contribute to a Drop in Domestic Abuse Reporting Among Immigrants
November 19, 2018
Facing abuse from a spouse is horrific; but for many individuals across the country, they are struggling in silence. For many illegal immigrants in the United States, not only are they contending with abuse at the hands of a spouse, but also the threat of deportation should they go to the authorities. This leaves many to either continue suffering the abuse or to flee, rather than be deported and/or separated from their children.
This troubling trend is particularly noticeable in Houston, Texas. Although its immigrant population is one of the fastest growing in the country, the city saw a 16 percent decrease in the number of domestic violence reports from the Hispanic community.
In 2017 the Houston police recorded a total of 6,273 domestic violence reports from Hispanics, while just a year prior they recorded a total of 7,460. Although Houston’s Latino population grew significantly, accounting for 44 percent of the population, its domestic violence reports continued to decrease.
The police have attributed this to the much tougher immigration enforcement efforts by the President’s administration, and the charged political climate surrounding the issue of illegal immigration across the country.
Other Cities and Domestic Abuse Issues
Houston is by far not the only city in the country to be experiencing an increase in their Latino population, while also experiencing a decrease in reports of domestic violence and sexual assault in their Hispanic communities.
Several cities with large Hispanic populations such as Los Angeles, San Diego, and Denver have also experienced a decrease in the number of reports of domestic violence and sexual assault in their growing Hispanic communities.
With headlines splashed on newspapers and television focusing on their deportation, immigrants are feeling increasingly pressured to keep quiet.
Precedent has only reinforced the need. In February 2017, one case drew national headlines. When an undocumented, transgender woman from Mexico went to the courthouse to file a restraining order against her ex-boyfriend, federal agents detained her on the spot. Such stories are not unique, but are shared by women’s activists, immigrants, and domestic violence shelter workers across the city.
Though the reporting of crimes has always been lower among immigrant communities, the country has seen a steep decline of reports beginning in early 2017 when President Trump took office. Removal orders are up all over since 2016, and much more broadly applied than they were during the Obama administration.
According to an analysis by the Migration Policy Institute, a Washington-based immigration think tank, in Harris County, Texas (which includes Houston) the number of immigrants transferred from county jails to federal agents enforcing their immigration orders increased by 60 percent in the first five months of 2017 alone.
Under new Texas law, Senate Bill 4, officials could face jail time or fines in excess of $25,000, should they refuse to honor the federal government’s detainment requests. Houston has joined other Texas cities in an effort to overturn the law, which they fear could heavily induce racial profiling. A federal appeals court is currently weighing a request by the cities to rehear the case that it had largely upheld in April.
The victims of this abuse are finding ways around the current landscape, often calling women’s center hotlines and applying for U visas, which could help them to stay in the U.S. should they be granted.
Last year saw over three times the amount of applications for these visas as was available; they are capped at 10,000 per year.
Philadelphia Deportation Lawyers at the Law Offices of Tahir Mella, P.C. Can Help Immigrants with Domestic Violence Issues
October was Domestic Violence Awareness month. If you or a loved one is struggling with an issue related to domestic violence and immigration, a Philadelphia deportation lawyer at the Law Offices of Tahir Mella, P.C. can help. For a free consultation call 215-496-0690 or contact us online today. From our offices in Philadelphia, we assist clients in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and nationwide.