The reason the State of California and many of its cities and counties have passed so-called “sanctuary laws” is a strong belief that immigrantion enforcement and local law enforcement do not mix.
When local police are actively involved in immigrantion enforcement, the theory goes, they will naturally wish to address any immigrantion irregularities they encounter while responding to calls. If they do, however, the effect is likely to be that people who have immigrantion irregularities, or who fear they do, will avoid calling the police altogether.
That effect seems to be real, as we recently discussed in regards to San Diego. Now we have more evidence that, when a 911 call could bring an immigrantion hassle, 911 won’t be called.
According to LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, 911 calls were down last month in two majority-Hispanic areas even though they were up overall. The areas were the LAPD’s Rampart Division, which includes Westlake, Pico-Union and Echo Park, and its Hollenbeck Division, which includes Boyle Heights, El Sereno, and Lincoln Heights. In Rampart, 911 calls were off by 6-1/2 percent, while in Hollenbeck calls were down 10 percent.
Big drops in crime reports from Latinos in March
By March it was already clear to many that there might be a problem. The “Trump Effect” was blamed for substantial drops in crime reports among Latinos. Domestic violence calls were off by 10 percent, and complaints of sexual assault were down fully 25 percent when compared to last year. These reductions were not observed in other communities.
At the time, Beck saw the sudden changes as outliers in reporting. He admitted there was a “strong correlation” between Trump’s immigrantion crackdown and interactions between Latinos and police, but said there was no “direct nexus.”
Now, Beck is beginning to suspect a nexus. Hollenbeck and Rampart are “two divisions that are normally very, very busy and are majority-Hispanic,” he said in a press conference on Tuesday. “So there are a number of things that we may see evolve because of federal policies.”
It may not be only unauthorized immigrants who avoid calling the police. Because we see so much immigrant detention these days with very little chance to defend oneself, any perception that calling the police may lead to an immigrantion hassle may be enough to put people off.
If you find yourself in a position where police would help you, it’s important to call them. If you’re unsure about your rights, please feel free to reach out to an immigrantion lawyer. Your discussions with immigrantion attorneys are always confidential.