Report

Safe Reporting of Crime for Victims and Witnesses with Irregular Migration Status in the United States

Published 11 October 2019 / By Nicola Delvino

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Introduction

In March 2019, local newspapers in Miami reported that Mabel – a Nicaraguan woman who had reached out to the Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD) after suffering a sexual offence – was arrested and detained by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers. Mabel was reported to ICE by MDPD officers while she was still in the police station and cooperating with them in the investigations. A month earlier, The Nation reported the story of Nancy, a victim of rape who was deported from the United States to Mexico after reporting the crime to the police, testifying in court, and cooperating with US law enforcement authorities to ensure the prosecution and expulsion of the perpetrator. In 2018, it was reported that Maria, a Colombian survivor of domestic violence, was briefly arrested by immigration authorities at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse, in North Carolina, where she appeared for a hearing related to her case. Maria’s case is not isolated, as it is widely reported that immigration arrests at courthouses in the United States in the recent past have been targeting crime victims as often as perpetrators. In all these cases, the victims had suffered a crime while in the United States with an irregular migration status.

This country report is was produced as part if the Safe Reporting of Crime project outlining the legal and policy frameworks surrounding “safe reporting” in Belgium, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and the USA. The report for the USA explores the legal and political conditions that allowed the adoption of “sanctuary policies” in the cities of New York and San Francisco.

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