Trump’s Misguided War on Sanctuary Cities is Silencing Victims

Home News & Politics Trump’s Misguided War on Sanctuary Cities is Silencing Victims

It’s a cruel twist of fate when a presidential administration is sending the same message that abusers try to imprint upon their victims: You cannot hide. Nowhere is safe.

No one can say that the Trump administration hasn’t been busy. Still under the 100 day mark, there’s hardly a demographic that the administration hasn’t targeted or belittled, including their own Republican base. Some of their most drastic actions have been against immigrant communities, and as sanctuary cities form stubborn alliances with those communities, they’ve become POTUS’ number one enemy.

Though the administration claimed it would focus its deportation efforts on undocumented immigrants with criminal records, it wasn’t long before Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents set their sights on the most vulnerable, ambushing courthouses, elementary schools and homes. Sanctuary cities are doing what they can to reassure residents, and California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye took Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Department of Homeland Security to task in a letter that accused their agencies of creating a culture of fear that was discouraging victims of crime, sexual abuse and domestic violence from coming forward. Sessions and Kelly had the audacity to defend these actions and shifted the blame onto sanctuary cities, arguing that their lack of cooperation with ICE agents made such measures necessary.

A survey conducted by the National Domestic Violence Hotline supports Cantil-Sakauye’s theory. Thirty-five percent of Latinx sexual assault survivors reported that they felt increased fear as a result of the political climate around immigration enforcement. Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck also believes there’s a “strong correlation” between anti-immigrant policies and a decrease in domestic violence and sexual assault crimes being reported by Latinxs in the beginning of this year, compared to 2016. In a city that is half Latinx, these statistics cannot be ignored.

Related: Before You Share Info About ICE Raids on Social Media, Read This

In February, an undocumented trans woman was detained in El Paso, Texas, just after filing a protective order against an abusive former partner. It’s likely her ex-partner reported her, as he would have been summoned for the same court date. She is currently awaiting a grand jury decision on whether or not she will be indicted on a charge of reentering the country illegally. If charges are dropped, she will be turned over to ICE, where she will likely face deportation.

It’s a cruel twist of fate when a presidential administration is sending the same message that abusers try to imprint upon their victims: You cannot hide. Nowhere is safe.

Thankfully, sanctuary cities are not backing down from Trump’s threats to deny them federal funding. California has taken it one step further, and on Monday passed a bill designating itself as a “sanctuary state.” The bill still has to pass the state assembly and be signed by the Governor, but lawmakers hope that it will encourage residents to report violent crimes and improve trust between law enforcement and the communities they police. In January, San Francisco became the first city to file a lawsuit accusing the Trump administration of attempting to turn city and state officials into federal immigration agents and called the executive order a violation of the 10th Amendment. Seattle filed a similar suit last week.

The irony of Trump’s crusade is that research continues to prove that sanctuary policies work. A study published earlier this year showed that sanctuary counties have stronger economies and less crime compared to non-sanctuary counties. If anything, it’s Trump’s policies that have hindered state and local law enforcement’s ability to investigate crimes, as many witnesses and victims fear cooperation will lead to detainment and eventual deportation.

It’s difficult to say where we go from here. Local service providers are doing what they can to support victims and encourage them to come forward, but no one can blame them for their reservations. It’s up to us to pay attention and to continue pressuring lawmakers to stand strong against Trump. We cannot allow citizenship to determine whether victims get justice or abusers get off scot-free.