About 40 percent of the 232 law enforcement officials who responded to a recent national survey said they believe that federal immigration policies had affected their relationships with immigrant communities in 2017 compared to 2016, and 71 percent said because immigrants face barriers to engaging with law enforcement, officers were less able to hold criminals accountable.
A majority also said it had become harder to investigate cases of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking involving immigrant victims.
About 20 percent of the officers said they believed immigrant victims in their communities were less likely to report or assist in the investigations of violent crimes than before. Among the top reasons for not cooperating: They were worried they’d be deported or the perpetrator would retaliate against them.
“With increased immigration enforcement, what we see in the data is that threats of deportation and fear of deportation is a very, very powerful tool used by perpetrators against immigrant victims,” said Leslye Orloff, a professor with American University Washington College of Law and the lead researcher of the study. “Increased enforcement strengthens the hands of perpetrators whether that’s intended or not.”