Amidst reports that Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have been rounding up undocumented immigrants in hypothermia shelters, hospitals, and even courthouses, there is now evidence that Hispanics may be less likely to inform police when they have been victimized by violent crime out of fear of persecution.
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo announced on Wednesday that his department's statistics reveal a 42.8 percent decline in Hispanics reporting rape and a 13 percent decline in Hispanics reporting other crimes, according to a report by the Houston Chronicle. Acevedo said he saw firsthand the decline from talking with members of the Hispanic community in his city about their fear of reporting crime. He added that other cities are seeing similar trends.
"When you see this type of data, and what looks like the beginnings of people not reporting crime, we should all be concerned," he said. "A person that rapes or violently attacks or robs an undocumented immigrant is somebody that is going to harm a natural born citizen or lawful resident."
Although Acevedo did not point the finger at any specific anti-immigrant rhetoric by President Donald Trump, it is difficult to think of another explanation for such a sharp drop in Hispanic victims reporting violent crimes against them between last year and this one. It may explain why Acevedo urged Hispanics "not to worry about political rhetoric or political debate, but pay close attention to what's happening in our city."
"Don't worry about what's going on at the national level, focus on what's going on here," Acevedo said. "This relationship, this police department."
Los Angeles also reported last month that Hispanic reporting of violent crimes had fallen by 25 percent when it came to sexual assault and 10 percent when it come to domestic violence, as compared with figured from 2016.