For those living in this country illegally, the fear of deportation can keep them from reporting a crime. ...There are supposedly around 1.6 million undocumented immigrants living in Texas. That's 1.6 million people who are unlikely to either report crimes against them (particularly those committed by a family member) or cooperate with police as a witness.
"Women in general are afraid to report domestic violence," said Detective Darla Fuller of the Travis County Sheriff's Office. "When a woman is afraid of deportation, usually that is something that the batterer has used to keep her in line or to try to keep her from calling law enforcement."
Austin PD and the Travis County Sheriff both say they don't ask victims about immigration status, but the Travis Sheriff has just allowed federal immigration agents to set up shop in the jail, so in cases of domestic violence, if the immigration status of the offender is the same as the victim, the policy still keeps people from calling.
The Sheriff's Department actually recommended women in this position call the Political Asylum Project or SafePlace, a shelter for abused women, if they're worried about immigration status issues getting mixed up in a domestic abuse case. That seems outrageous to me: Our immigration policies are now causing law enforcement to refer out domestic violence cases to non-profits? That can't be good for public safety.
In a related safety matter, security expert Bruce Schneier makes similar arguments as to why illegal immigrants, as a practical matter, "we are all safer if we encourage every adult in America to get a driver's license," he wrote. Read his full essay from the Detroit Free Press where he argues, "We are all safer if everyone in society trusts and respects law enforcement. A society where illegal immigrants are afraid to talk to police because of fear of deportation is a society where fewer people come forward to report crimes, aid police investigations, and testify as witnesses."