California Needs to Stand with All Survivors of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence
Did you know that an estimated 8,300,000 Californians will experience physical assault, rape, or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetimes? While California has made significant strides to help make sure survivors aren’t afraid to come forward, the federal government’s plan to enlist local law enforcement in its mass deportation efforts is having chilling effects on immigrant survivors and their families.
Like other survivors, immigrant survivors have to navigate dangerous situations – with violent partners and abusers sometimes using the threat of deportation to keep them from fleeing. Federal immigration agents are also making things worse by showing up to California courts and hospitals in other states to pick up survivors and other immigrants for deportation. This is hurting survivors, families, and our communities.
That’s one of the many reasons why the ACLU is supporting and standing behind SB 54: The California Values Act, a bill that will help ensure every Californian has equal access to justice no matter their background, what they look like, or what their immigration status is.
Earlier this year, the Los Angeles Police Department released information indicating that domestic violence and sexual assault reports have plummeted among Latino residents in the city in comparison to the same period last year. Service providers nationwide are also reporting that immigrant survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault have expressed increasing fears and concerns about reaching out for help.
It’s not surprise. Studies have shown that fear of local law enforcement’s involvement in deportations has a chilling effect on victims and witnesses of crime and their willingness to come forward. For example, undocumented immigrants and their family members are already less likely to call the police to report crimes for fear that any contact with police could result in their or a family member’s deportation.
Driving witnesses and victims of crime underground doesn’t make them or any of our communities safer. The California Values Act can help.
By making sure the federal government can’t conscript local law enforcement into becoming deportation agents, The California Values Act will help decrease the fear of deportation among immigrant survivors who want to report the harm they have experienced. The bill will also help make our schools, hospitals, courthouses, and libraries safe spaces for everyone in our community. This is especially important at a time when immigration agents are picking parents up at school while they’re dropping their kids off and showing up a human trafficking courts.
Now, more than ever, we need to come together and stand with survivors and California families in the name of dignity and justice for all.
Roberto Alcantar is a Senior Policy Strategist on Immigrant Rights with the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties.