While one in every three Latinas have experienced domestic violence in their lifetime, one of the biggest reasons they do not come forward is fear of deportation. Last week federal immigration authorities formalized a policy that allows deportation agents to enter federal, state as well as local courthouses to make arrests. Advocacy groups along with judges allege that this type of immigration tactic instills fear among crime victims, witnesses and community members.
According to the Associated Press, Supreme Court Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst addressed this issue in March, ICE’s presence was “deeply troubling because they impede the fundamental mission of our courts, which is to ensure due process and access for everyone, regardless of their immigration status.”
Consequences of making immigrants feel unwelcome at courthouses
ICE insists they have policies in place to avoid deportation arrests in places that are considered “sensitive locations.” These designated areas include; schools, daycares, hospitals, places of worship, funerals, weddings rallies and public demonstrations. Unfortunately, courthouses have never made it on that list.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, claims they will only enter courthouses for specific targets. The following group lists examples of people who may be considered of interest:
- Convicted criminals
- Gang members
- Public safety threats
- Immigrants who have been previously deported or ordered to leave
The courthouse is supposed to be a place where justice is not only served to the perpetrators of crimes but offered as protection to its victims. Often just the sight of an officer is enough to evoke fear in immigrant communities. Sending ICE agents into a courthouse is likely to discourage victims from seeking justice. Papers or no papers, everyone deserves justice.