Hispanics ‘Are Going Further Into the Shadows’ Amid Chilling Immigration Debate, Police Say

Police departments from California to New Jersey have reported a decrease in crime reporting in predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods, which some local law enforcement officials believe could be related to the nation’s impassioned immigration debate.

Law enforcement officials say the debate might be affecting their relationship with minority communities, and they are especially concerned that undocumented immigrants are becoming more hesitant to engage with police and report crimes because they fear deportation.

“It looks like they’re going further into the shadows, and there appears to be a chilling effect in the reporting of violent crime by members of the Hispanic community,” Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said.

Acevedo recently announced that new data shows a 13 percent decrease in violent crime reporting by Hispanics in Houston during the first three months of 2017 compared to the first three months of 2016; it also shows a 12 percent increase in violent crime reporting by non-Hispanics. Houston saw a 43 percent drop in the number of Hispanics reporting rape and sexual assault, while there was an 8 percent rise in the number of non-Hispanics reporting such crimes. There was also a 12 percent decline in reports of aggravated assault and a 12 percent decline in reports of robbery among the Hispanic population, the chief said.

Police say the problem is twofold: Not only might undocumented immigrants be too nervous to report violent crimes against them, but they might also be less willing to report crimes they witness.

“Whatever the cause is, it is not good for the safety of all people within this city and within this region,” Acevedo said.

By Lindsey Bever for The Washington Post
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