HOUSTON - Fear of deportation may be keeping criminals out on the streets of Houston.
“When we compare January through March of 2016 to that of 2017 what we've noticed is a 42.8 percent decrease in the number of Hispanic victims reporting rape. When you contrast that to the fact that we've seen an increase 8.2 percent of non-Hispanic victims reporting this crime, it is cause for concern,” Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said.
The data is similar to numbers out of Los Angeles where this year police saw a 25 percent drop in sexual assaults reported by Latinos and a 10 percent drop in domestic violence reporting as well.
The Trump administration has made it clear they want immigration policies enforced up and down the chain of command, but when someone witnesses, or even worse is a victim of a crime, the decision to do what's right is not an easy one.
“Let's say your neighbors the one being assaulted and you would want to report it because you care about your neighbors and you want your community to be safe, but if you report it then your family will suffer because then you will deported. Your family will be separated, your children will be left behind because they are U.S. citizens and they can't come with you and so i think the weight is very, very heavy,” said Brenda Madrigal with FIEL Houston.
How, or if, the Justice Department decides to respond to statistics like these coming from Houston and Los Angeles is yet to be seen.
“I would ask them and urge them not to worry about political rhetoric and the political debate but to pay close attention to what's happening in our city. The Houston Police Department is open and we're here for victims and witnesses regardless of their status,” Acevedo said.