Danger for domestic violence victims in deportation program

Source: Denver Post Guest Commentary By Amy Miller, Public Policy Director, Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence

The statewide deployment of the Secure Communities program has not rendered moot the concerns surrounding the practice of reporting victims of crime who are arrested as perpetrators to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), most particularly victims of domestic violence.

Because the Secure Communities program does not exclude domestic violence arrestees from deportation until conviction, the concerns addressed in 2006 by Colorado’s General Assembly through a bipartisan domestic violence arrest exception in Senate Bill 90 once again have statewide implications.

Colorado state law includes an exception to the reporting of domestic violence arrestees to ICE not only to undermine an effective tool of abuse used by perpetrators, but also because domestic violence is a very complex crime. Perpetrators of domestic violence against immigrants often threaten deportation as a way to silence their victims.

Sometimes victims who appear to be perpetrators are arrested, and sometimes both people are arrested until whoever committed the crime can be later determined. As a result of these dynamics and immigration enforcement laws and programs carried out at the local level, any interaction immigrant victims of domestic violence have with law enforcement carries the risk of apprehension and deportation by ICE. Thus, Secure Communities deters immigrant victims and witnesses — including those with lawful status — from reporting domestic violence, which diminishes law enforcement’s ability to prevent and respond to these crimes.

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