Update: On May 5th, the charges against the defendants in the Rockville, MD case were dropped. In the aftermath of the case, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has asked local police to transfer one of the defendants into ICE custody. The defendant’s father has also been detained by immigration officials. The case also sparked a wave of threats and complaints against the local school system and other undocumented students. The allegations in the case were even used by Governor Larry Hogan to oppose the Maryland Trust Act, which would have made collaboration between Maryland police and immigration authorities more difficult. In early April, the MD Senate said that they would not consider the legislation, which was already approved by the state House of Delegates.
Last week I wrote a post about how the recent nationwide crackdown on immigration is lending a hand to domestic abusers by providing them with yet another very powerful tool to intimidate victims into staying with them. It looks like some rapists might also be getting a free pass these days and at least one sanctuary city has recognized the magnitude of the problem and is trying to counteract it.
Los Angeles city officials are taking specific steps to protect the Hispanic community in the city amidst concerns that its members are avoiding public places and facilities and, most disturbingly, avoiding encounters with law enforcement by staying quiet about domestic abuse and sexual assaults. According to LAPD’s statistics, rape reports by Hispanic victims dropped by 25 percent in the first two and a half months of this year compared to the same period in 2016. Among all other ethnic groups combined, the decline was only 3 percent. Reports of spousal abuse by Hispanic victims also dropped by 10 percent in January and February compared to the first two months of 2016, while the drop among all other ethnic groups was only 4 percent. According to the LAPD website, “the Department believes deportation fears may be preventing Hispanic members of the community from reporting when they are victimized.” Last week, the city mayor took action to assuage these fears by prohibiting city employees from performing the functions of immigration officials and hosting several “Know Your Rights” events across the city with the goal of helping people understand their legal options, including a phone bank and a workshop.
While nationwide domestic abuse and sexual assault victims are being trapped and effectively silenced by the recent immigration crackdown, conservative news outlets are choosing to exploit one particular rape case for their personal political gain. A reported rape in a high school in Rockville, MD in which the alleged assailants were undocumented immigrants is being used by conservative pundits not as an incentive to start a discussion on sexual assault or rape culture (when have they cared about that?), but as a slam on sanctuary cities and a justification for the current federal immigration policies. That case, just as every other rape case in the world, is horrific and deserves our attention. Exploiting the victim’s suffering by using it as political fuel for a racist immigration agenda, however, is unwarranted and disturbing. Moreover, expressing outrage on behalf of one sexual assault victim while wholeheartedly supporting a policy that silences numerous others is blatantly hypocritical, as is feigning concern about women’s well-being only when that helps you discriminate against entire social groups you dislike.