Despite a chaotic and dysfunctional first few months, the Trump White House has swiftly delivered on at least one campaign promise: cracking down on undocumented immigrants. But it might have the exact opposite of its intended effect—keeping Americans safe—as frightened immigrants refuse to cooperate with law enforcement.
A series of policies targeting immigrants and sanctuary cities have emboldened ICE agents to go after undocumented people even more aggressively than during the Obama administration, when the agency already faced criticism for their treatment of immigrants.
The Trump administration asserts that they only want to round up “criminal” immigrants to keep Americans safe, but criminal justice and immigration advocates have noted for years that hunting down immigrants makes communities less safe. That’s because undocumented people are less likely to report crimes or cooperate with law enforcement if they’re fearful of ICE, a problem especially prevalent among domestic violence victims.
NPR reported on one recent case in Denver, where four women stopped cooperating with a domestic abuse investigation because they didn’t want to get deported, prompting Denver City Attorney Kristin Bronson to speak out against the Trump administration’s policies.
“We had pending cases that we were prosecuting on their behalf and since January 25, the date of the president’s executive order [on immigration], those four women have let our office know they were not willing to proceed with the case for fear that they would be spotted in the courthouse and deported,” Bronson told NPR.
Other prosecutors have also spoken out. El Paso county attorney Jo Anne Bernal told the Guardian there’s been a 12 percent drop in protective orders, which are designed to keep abusers away from their victims. “It is really heartbreaking,” she told the Guardian. Prosecutors in Austin, Texas, also told Business Insider that fear of being deported stopped a woman from aiding an investigation because she was scared of ICE.