Since Trump converted ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) into a state police force just days after his 2017 inauguration, activists have warned that undocumented immigrants would be pushed into the shadows due to deportation fears. And sure enough, they were right. Here’s a report out of Texas, just months after Trump ramped up his vicious hunt for the undocumented.
“It is believed that this group is targeting undocumented immigrants and robbing them for their cash,” Davie Sgt. Mark Leone said. “We believe that they target these undocumented immigrants because they are less likely to report being a victim of a crime to the police.”
Houston police say crimes reported by Latinos have fallen by more than 40 percent in the first three months of 2017 compared to the previous year. Across the Houston area, (immigrants), documented and undocumented, all pepper police officers with similar questions: Is it worth the risk to report a robbery? Will I be stopped driving to work? Will you ask about my immigration status?
The report goes on to describe immigrant families who were so afraid of deportation, they hid from rescue teams during Hurricane Harvey.
These stories are just the tip of a very ugly and dangerous iceberg, which also includes decreased reporting of domestic violence and sexual assault. This fear of law enforcement by victims of crime is a hideous, manmade problem, and help make the case for sanctuary cities, which have been found to be safer than those who participate in ICE’s inhuman policies.
What’s a sanctuary city? Here’s a super-simple explanation from America’s Voice—and a call to change the way we refer to such communities.
There’s no single definition of what is a sanctuary city, but generally speaking, it’s a city (or a county, or a state) that limits its cooperation with federal immigration enforcement agents in order to protect low-priority immigrants from deportation, while still turning over those who have committed serious crimes. This is why we prefer the term “safe cities.”
Still not clear enough? Let’s dive in a little deeper.
(I)n a sanctuary city, the police will release an arrested immigrant after he’s been cleared of charges, posted bail, or completed jail time for whatever he was arrested for. A non-sanctuary city will hold that person until ICE can come pick them up – even though that extra holding is not constitutional.
It’s that latter part that applies to the Davie case, and so many others. Many undocumented immigrants fear going to the very people charged with protecting our communities, because they’re afraid they’ll be held on an ICE detainer, even if they’re the victim of a crime.
This fear is what that septet of violent kidnappers in South Florida was banking on. They captured their victim after Natalie Rebecca Williams, 34, accosted him at a stop sign at about 9 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2. She asked him for a ride, and when he declined, a man stepped in front of his pickup truck, blocking his escape. Williams brandished a gun, and both of the abductors got into the truck. They then forced the man to drive them to a mobile home, also in Davie, where five other men were waiting.
There, the victim was blindfolded and tied to a chair and beaten. They took almost $1400 cash from the man’s wallet, as well as an estimated $4000 in tools he had in his truck. They also took his ATM card and threatened him with death if he didn’t give them a valid PIN number.
The group repeatedly threatened to kill him if he went to the police and said he would be deported for being an illegal alien. Williams added she would tell police he tried to rape her, the report stated.
Twelve hours later, they released the man, and he drove away and got treated for his injuries; he was ultimately able to lead police to the mobile home on Wednesday. Williams, along with Joshua Aaron Greiff, 30, and Andres Rafael, 31, were ultimately arrested on Thursday, and police suggest that more arrests are coming.
Williams, who Sgt. Leone says investigators believe to be the ringleader of the scheme, kept her nasty promise to the victim.
During questioning, Williams claimed the driver raped her and left his cellphone and ATM card behind when he left, police said.
The trio was arrested on charges that include armed robbery, aggravated battery and kidnapping; at their first court appearances on Friday, all three of them were held without bond. Police continue to investigate, and expect to find more victims of the scheme, that again, relies on Trump’s immigration policies in order to succeed.
Davie is not a sanctuary city, Broward County is not a sanctuary city, and Florida is not a sanctuary state. The victim was indeed undocumented, but it’s unknown if he was ultimately placed under an ICE detainer as he sought justice.