“I am afraid to report the abuse because I don’t have papers,” said Maria, a victim of domestic violence, who lives in Tucson, Arizona.

Domestic Violence is a serious problem that affects millions of women worldwide everyday. There are many barriers that women face when trying to leave their abuser. Unfortunately, women like Maria face additional barriers due to their immigration status. When local law enforcement collaborates with Border Patrol, this ultimately jeopardizes the safety of undocumented victims because they fear that if they report the abuse, a deportation process will initiate against them.

As a survivor of domestic violence, I have experienced first-hand the same struggles as Maria. As an advocate, I have heard countless domestic violence stories from women who are terrified of asking for help due to the political climate. According to the New York Times; Police departments in cities with large Hispanic populations have seen a decrease in domestic violence reports within Hispanic communities. A survey conducted by the National Immigrant Women’s Advocacy Project (NIWAP) shows that due to the fear of deportation there has been a decrease in crime reporting in Hispanic communities. The decrease in reporting does not only impact the victim, but the community and the police officer. According to the survey above, 82% of prosecutors reported that since President Trump took office domestic violence has not only become underreported but harder to prosecute.

Every person, regardless of his or her immigration status should feel safe to report a crime. Law enforcement’s main goal is to serve and protect, and they cannot do that properly if immigrants are being targeted and deported. For this reason, among various others, we need to create a community where everyone feels safe.

Imelda Esquer Rico

Program Manager for YWCA Women’s Center for Economic Opportunity