L.A. police see drop in Latino reports of
crime amid deportation fears
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[March 22, 2017]
By Steve Gorman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Latinos in Los
Angeles are lodging fewer reports of rape and spousal abuse to police so
far this year amid heightened concerns among immigrants that contact
with law enforcement could lead to deportation, police Chief Charlie
Beck said on Tuesday.
Beck cited 41 fewer reports of rape - down 25 percent - and 118 fewer
domestic violence complaints - a 10 percent drop - among the city's
Hispanic residents since January, compared with the same period of 2016.
Those declines, coinciding with President Donald Trump taking office as
he vowed to step up deportations of immigrants who entered the United
States illegally, were not seen in the crime reporting of other ethnic
groups, Beck said.
The trend suggested a growing mistrust of the criminal justice system
among Latinos as the Trump administration has pressed state and local
law enforcement to assist U.S. immigration agents, the Los Angeles
Police Department said.
"While there is no direct evidence that the decline is related to
concerns within the Hispanic community regarding immigration, the
department believes deportation fears may be preventing Hispanic members
of the community from reporting when they are victimized," the LAPD said
in a statement.
Beck himself suggested as much at a news conference with Mayor Eric
Garcetti to announce new steps to shield immigrants who might be targets
of the Trump administration's enforcement crackdown.
"Imagine your sister, your mother, not reporting a sexual assault for
fear that their family will be torn apart," the Los Angeles Times quoted
Beck as saying at the event in L.A.'s predominantly Lincoln Heights
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LAPD Police Chief Charlie Beck looks on during a news conference at
the LAPD Headquarters in Los Angeles, California, February 10, 2013.
Los Angeles is one of dozens of municipalities and local governments
across the country that have declared themselves "sanctuary cities,"
overtly refusing to cooperate in federal immigration enforcement.
Like police in many of those cities, the LAPD has barred its
officers from checking the immigration status of individuals they
arrest or from keeping them locked up longer than otherwise
warranted at the request of federal agents seeking to deport them,
absent a court order.
Garcetti issued a directive on Tuesday extending those policies to
airport police, port police and firefighters, while prohibiting all
city workers from using public facilities or resources to assist
with federal immigration enforcement.
The directive also requires every city facility and service be made
available to all Los Angeles residents, regardless of immigration
status, and that personal information submitted for enrollment in
city programs and services be kept confidential.
(Reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Michael Perry)
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