stepped-up enforcement of immigration laws is jeopardizing the safety of illegal immigrants, some immigrants and law-enforcement experts tell the Arizona Republic. Dozens of Guatemalan immigrants say they are being routinely robbed by criminals who come by their apartment and demand money. If they don’t pay, they get beat up. The Guatemalans, who are undocumented, have not sought help from police because a general crackdown on illegal immigration has made them afraid. “They (immigrants) are likely to take their chances with not reporting a crime and hoping for the best,” said Ralph Tranter, former executive director of the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police.
If immigrants aren’t reporting crimes, Tranter said, it’s difficult to know whether crime against them is on the rise. Interviews with immigrants, advocates, landlords, and pastors suggest more illegal immigrants are afraid to report crimes because they fear any encounters with local authorities. Jose Gonzalez, a chaplain who works closely with immigrants, said a dairy worker told him about a co-worker who came home to find a window broken. Missing was a videotape player and $300 in cash. “That person was very afraid to call the police,” Gonzalez said. “What he did was fix the window himself and then forget about it.” Luis Ibarra of Friendly House, a Phoenix non-profit that assists immigrants, said staff members have called police on behalf of crime victims at least 13 times in the past year. Such calls were rare in the past.