16). Since that time, however, the U.S. society has taken a much more liberal viewpoint, with many of its citizens decrying an invasion of privacy when being questioned by law enforcement officials. This outcry is being heeded by law enforcement officials and immigrants throughout society.
Many officials are now reluctant to apprehend individuals based solely upon their looks or something as flimsy as 'reasonable suspicion'. Discovering that those they apprehend are productive, responsible citizens with jobs and families is a deterrent for apprehending similar individuals in the future.
Recent literature shows that another reason for reluctance on the part of law enforcement officials to vigorously pursue those individuals who may be in the United States illegally is the effect it will have on those citizens that are here legally but live in the same geographical areas that house the illegal immigrants. Many experts believe that vigorous enforcement will mean a lower reported rate of crime, but not necessarily a lower rate of crime. The difference between the two, is that criminal acts may still be taking place, they just might not be reported as often.
This is oftentimes due to the reluctance of the victim to 'get involved', especially with law enforcement officials who may view the victims with suspicion. This is especially true for immigrants, recent or not, many of them are still acclimating themselves to American culture, which in many cases is quite different than there own.
Sometimes police officers, even with all of the training they receive, can be perceived as being unsympathetic towards the victims they are attempting to assist. Many times the victims have been exposed to police officers who may seem to be less than caring in nature. One recent article states that the victim's reluctance to report violence is that they feel there is no empathy from the responding police officers. The article states that victims "often invoke law enforcement's lax response in specific threats to further harm the victim" (Rosenfeld, 2008, pg. 257). If police officials are seen as too lax in this case, they are oftentimes seen as too overbearing as well. Displaying an overbearing attitude towards citizens who are already concerned about whether they will be questioned on their status as citizens can only add fuel to the fire.
Additionally many of these victims of violence are already reluctant to report such abuse due to the stigma attached to such actions. One recent article tells the story of a Muslim immigrant who denied that her husband beat her after police arrived at her door. The article states; "she was thinking of her Muslim immigrant community and the role she was expected to play: faithful wife, submissive mother" (Smith, 2008, pg. 20).
Even more importantly in this particular situation was the fact that the woman was also worried about how she would continue on in daily life without spousal support. According to Smith the wife was "thinking of her children and how she would support them without an income" (Smith, pg. 20).
These factors, coupled with the fear of arrest and deportation, would likely increase the possibility that legal (and illegal) citizens would not report crimes, which means that criminals could then operate with impunity, knowing that even if they are recognized, their crimes would go unreported. The secondary effect to this scenario is that the criminals would feel even more emboldened without deterrents and would commit crimes more frequently and of a more violent nature. Many times crimes are seen as happening outside of the home, but domestic violence is a prevalent problem in today's society.
There are a wide variety of situations that law enforcement officials deal with on a daily basis that are risky and are of a violent nature. A recent study estimated "that between ten and twenty percent of children in the United States are exposed to domestic violence annually" (pg. 1). Their numbers were based primarily on those children suffering violence in the home. The numbers did not include the street violence, or the witnessing of violence by homeless children and families that are exposed to those situations on almost a daily basis. Another recent study states, "violence is one of the most prevalent elements in the lives of homeless families with young children" (Swick, 2008, pg. 81).
The study continues by defining the various forms of violence which these families are faced and concludes, "violence disrupts the normal bonding between parent and child" and that "it isolates and degrades families" (Swick, pg. 81).
Switching the focus of local police enforcement efforts could indirectly affect the lifestyles and living situations of many domestic violence victims. These include not only the spouses, but affects the children living in the households as well. One recent study concludes that "victim assessments have significant potential to inform practice" (Cattaneo, Bell, Goodman, Dutton, 2007, pg. 429) and the actions of the responding police officers can either undermine or reinforce that assessment.
One recent study concludes, "that children and adolescents living with domestic violence are at increased risk of experiencing emotional, physical and sexual abuse, of developing emotional and behavioral problems and of increased exposure to the presence of other adversities in their lives" (Holt, Buckley, Whelan, 2008, pg. 798). This study finds that children who are experiencing domestic violence are prone to acting out, and many times experience emotional and behavioral problems which in turn influences and touches those who they come in contact with, including other family members and classmates. Another study verifies these findings by concluding, "that children from troubled families significantly decrease their peers' reading and math test scores and significantly increase misbehavior of others in the classroom" (Carrell, Hoekstra, 2008, pg. 1).
If police officials are focusing on illegal immigrants, and the illegal immigrants live in many of the same neighborhoods as legal citizens (many of them of foreign descent) many children, and adults as well, will already be impacted by their actions. Many immigrants already have a natural reluctance to interact with people in authority, and this natural reluctance can be exacerbated with questioning by police officials. This reluctance to report crime can do nothing but backlash against those very officials who are seeking to help. The issue is much more complex than just 'getting rid of illegal immigrants'.
In one recent article Gail Pendleton expresses the idea that "if police are seen as agents of INS in the eyes of the community, many battered immigrants will be reluctant to call the police and take the initial steps necessary to become independent of the abuser out of fear of being asked about her immigration status" (Pendleton, pg 1).
As stated above many of the immigrants that are being questioned are of legal status, yet they are still viewed with suspicion by many in law enforcement. This same mistrust in evident in many individuals residing in immigrant communities as well. Much of the mistrust is justified. Pendleton writes of an example in Salt Lake City that displays the justification. "Police officers and federal agents bust into Rafael Gomez's business, the Panderia La Diama and force all his customers and employees to the floor while they searched for drugs.
The local and federal agents officers were operating on the later disproved theory that undocumented Mexicans made up 80%of the illegal drug trade in Salt Lake City" (Pendleton, pg. 3).
It is events like this that cause as much angst in the community as in the police departments that initiate such actions. Many experts believe that a much more conservative approach should be take when it comes to dealing with individuals in the community. One expert wrote "it's emotion and humanity that make the connection in our global community" (Gardels, 2007, pg. 7).
Both sides of the argument would do well to keep that in mind. A recent report by the Los Angeles Police Department reiterated the fact that "Community Policing is based upon a solid relationship between the police and the community…By working together, the police and the community can reduce the fear and incidence of crime and improve the quality of life in the community" (Los Angeles Police Department website).
The theory that perceptions will affect the manner in which illegal immigrants report crimes as well as being an influential factor in additional crimes being committed seems to be a valid argument. Other studies have shown that there are connections between police actions and the perceptions of citizens who view those actions.
Literature also provides a solid foundation of evidence that allows for the belief that if police officials are given a directive to seek out, apprehend and deport illegal immigrants the resulting backlash would be strong against them, both from legal citizens and illegal immigrants as well. The literature shows how certain immigrants in situations of domestic violence have displayed reluctance to report crimes, and with that reluctance has come an emboldened criminal with more crimes that are more vicious…