Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo has joined a growing chorus of voices warning that the Trump administrationā€™s harsh immigration tactics are silencing victims of rape and other violent crimes.

On Wednesday, Acevedo announced that the cityā€™s police department has found that the number of Latinx reporting rape decreased by nearly 43% from January to March this year, compared to the same three months last year, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Other violent crimes saw a 13% decrease during the same period.

At a news conference discussing the findings, Acevedo said, ā€œWhen you see this type of data, and what looks like the beginnings of people not reporting crime, we should all be concerned. A person that rapes or violently attacks or robs an undocumented immigrant is somebody that is going to harm a natural born citizen or lawful resident,ā€ the newspaper noted.

Meanwhile, the same internal police study found increases of more than 8% of non-Latinx victims reporting rape, and nearly 12% reporting other violent crimes.


Houston joins several other cities that have recently warned of similar trends. As Fusionā€™s Anne Branigin points out, reports by Latinx victims of sexual assault and domestic violence in Los Angeles have dropped by 25% and 10%, respectively. That prompted LAPD Police Chief Charlie Beck to highlight a ā€œstrong correlationā€ between less crime reporting and fear of becoming a target by immigration authorities.

Fusionā€™s Katie McDonough reported similar patterns in cities from Texas to Colorado to New York.

As McDonough writes:

These tactics are common enough in abusive mixed-status relationships that domestic violence organizations have made checklists that all read the same. Materials from Futures Without Violence and Casa de Esperanza both warn of abusers ā€˜threatening deportation or withdrawal of petitions for legal status.ā€™ They might destroy legal documents or different forms of identification to keep victims fearful and isolated. To be undocumented in the United States is to in some ways be in a constant state of precarity, and abusers know and exploit this.


In Houston, Acevedo urged federal officials to take a step back and figure a better way to operate that doesnā€™t cause terror in communities across the country and further harm victims of crime.

Agencies should function ā€œin a manner that does not have a chilling effect on victims of violent crimes coming forward regardless of their immigration status,ā€ he said, according to the Chronicle.