The chief justice of the California Supreme Court has been a vocal critic of the Trump administration’s immigration policies, and she accused U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents of stalking undocumented workers in an open letter released on March 16. The comments came after reports emerged of immigrants being taken into custody while they were pursuing justice, and advocacy groups say that this controversial tactic has created a situation where victims of domestic abuse are reluctant to speak up for fear of being deported.
One case that grabbed headlines in February involved a transgender Texas woman who was detained by ICE agents when she visited an El Paso courtroom to pick up a protective order. Some have claimed that the woman’s alleged abuser made the anonymous call that triggered the apprehension. Another case that drew widespread media interest involved four Colorado women who allegedly dropped domestic violence complaints because they no longer felt it was safe to attend court.
These claims appear to be backed up by law enforcement data. The Los Angeles Police Department has reported a 25 percent drop in the number of domestic abuse complaints received from the Latino community during the first few months of 2017. Experts say that this is an especially worrying development because two-thirds of the city’s residents are either immigrants or the children of immigrants.
Experienced family law attorneys may understand why the victims of domestic violence sometimes choose to remain silent. The thought of appearing in court can be a daunting one for those who live in fear, but attorneys may seek to make the prospect seem less intimidating by telling them what to expect. Attorneys could also point out that the courts generally err on the side of prudence and take few chances in domestic abuse cases.