As the Trump administration ramps up deportations and cracks down on so-called sanctuary cities, mayors and prosecutors across the US say immigrants who are living in the country illegally have begun avoiding law enforcement at all costs — often declining to testify in court cases and refusing to report crimes.
In Denver, four women who recently made domestic-abuse allegations declined to pursue their cases out of fear they would be seen at the courthouse by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers and deported, according to Denver’s city attorney, Kristin Bronson.
Their reticence, Bronson said, came after a video was released last month showing ICE agents waiting in a Denver courthouse and telling an attorney they were there to make an arrest.
“Without victims willing to testify we’ve had to dismiss those charges and the violent offenders have seen no consequences for their violent acts,” Bronson told NPR. “We have grave concerns here that they distrust the court system now and that we’re not going to have continued cooperation of victims and witnesses.”
An ICE spokesman told NPR that the agency’s officers generally would make arrests in courthouses only if they had “exhausted other options.”
Similar scenarios have played out in cities across the US. Prosecutors in Austin, Texas, said they encountered at least one recent instance of a woman who refused to cooperate with investigators in a domestic-violence case because she feared being deported. That incident came shortly after ICE officers arrested a man inside a courthouse where he had been scheduled for a routine hearing, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
Mayor Steve Adler of Austin mentioned the woman in a conference call with reporters Tuesday, saying the county’s ability to prosecute criminals depended on victims’ and witnesses’ willingness to come forward.
“That safety we enjoy in this community is due in part to the trust relationship between our public safety officers and the community,” Adler said.
By Michelle Mark for BUSINESS INSIDER
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