At least four undocumented women in Colorado have declined to pursue domestic violence cases against their alleged abusers for fear of being detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to a report from NPR.
"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," said Denver City Attorney Kristin Bronson.
Bronson traces their refusal back to the February detention of an undocumented trans woman at a Texas courthouse, where she was seeking a protective order against an allegedly abusive ex-partner. "[W]e have grave concerns here that they distrust the court system now and that we're not going to have continued cooperation of victims and witnesses," Bronson said.
Irvin González, the woman detained in the San Antonio courthouse, said in an interview with The New Yorker, that a fear of the system was precisely the threat that her ex-boyfriend used against her to keep her silent: “He would tell me that, if I reported him to the police, they would only believe him, because he is a U.S. citizen and not me.”
The script is familiar to domestic violence service providers. “They make a lot of threats that they’ll report you. They’ll say that you can’t call the police or go to court, which are really big myths,” Rachel Goldsmith, assistant vice president of domestic violence shelters at Safe Horizon, a service provider in New York City, told me last month. “They may tell you, ‘Oh I know the laws in this country and you don’t.’ It’s a common tactic of power and control.”
The Trump administration's immigration policies, by its own admission, are designed in part to create fear. It's working.