When in danger the typical reaction is call 911 hoping that police officers can help you. However, for some Latinos accepting the perils of danger is far more acceptable than calling 911. Why? Because of some law enforcement becoming more adamant about immigration enforcement some Latinos fear that calling 911 may lead to eventual deportation.
In a recent study entitled “Insecure Communities: Latinos Perception Involvement in Immigration Enforcement,” conducted by Lake Research Partners but sponsored by PolicyLink, a Californian think tank, a total of 2,004 Latinos living in Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, and Phoenix were surveyed to see how the recent rise in immigration enforcement has affected illegal, and U.S born, Latino citizens living in the states.
According to the study, an estimated 44% of Latinos said in a survey that if they were a victim in a crime they would not feel safe calling 911 fearing that the authorities would take the opportunity to check their, or someone that they may know, immigration status. Meanwhile, 45% of Latinos described having doubts contacting law enforcement with any information regarding a crime because they will only spotlight themselves. However, illegal immigrants are not the only ones who fear calling 911.
Like illegal Latinos, U.S born Latino citizens shared similar feelings about law enforcement. Amongst 38% of Latinos who said they felt persecuted by law enforcement because of their race is stereotyped as being illegally living in the country, a quarter of this percentage was born in the United States.
The researchers of this study noted that, “these findings reveal one of the unintended consequences of the involvement of state and local police on immigration enforcement,” and that this has resulted in “a reduction in public safety as Latinos’ mistrust of the police increases.”
“This confirms what police experts have been saying for decades. We have to have policies that make it clear there will be a separation between local police and immigration enforcement,” Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, was quoted commenting on the study’s findings. MALDEF is a nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles devoted to Latino civil rights.
During Obama’s administration there has been an increased in the recorded numbers of deportation. In the fiscal year of 2012, between October 2011 to September 2012, Immigration officials deported close to 410,000 people living in the states illegally; the rise is a 40% increase from 2007.
This is simply another consequence of the recent immigration debate. While there is talk of overhauling immigration policy due to an upcoming immigration reform, it is not coming soon enough. The “invisible” citizens of this country are now becoming silent too. While law enforcement should protect all, they should not further the victimization of those who beckon on them for help.