The crackdown on immigrants by the administration of President Donald Trump has resulted in many refusing to testify in court or report crimes, officials across the country are alleging.
In Denver, four women sought to withdraw domestic abuse cases because they feared being arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, NPR reported.
City Attorney Kristin Bronson noted that the four women, who were victims of physical and violent abuse, chose to drop their legal cases.
"We had pending cases that we were prosecuting on their behalf and since January 25, the date of the president's executive order on immigration, those four women have let our office know they were not willing to proceed with the case for fear that they would be spotted in the courthouse and deported," Bronson told NPR.
Bronson added that the main cause of the fear among immigrants was a video taken last month which showed ICE officers waiting to make an arrest at a Denver courthouse.
Bronson argued that this incident "unfortunately has resulted in a high degree of fear and anxiety in our immigrant community, and as a result, we have grave concerns here that they distrust the court system now and that we're not going to have continued cooperation of victims and witnesses."
A spokesperson with the ICE stated that making arrests at courthouses was a last resort.
"In such instances where deportation officers seek to conduct an arrest at a courthouse, every effort is made to take the person into custody in a secure area out of public view; but this is not always possible," the spokesperson said.
In Los Angeles, reports of sexual assault by Hispanic people are down by a quarter from the same period last year and domestic violence reports have dropped by close to 10 percent. While the Los Angeles Police Department acknowledged there was no direct evidence linking the decline to deportation fears, they suggested it as a likely cause.
"Abusers commonly threaten victims that reaching out for help will result in their removal or separation from their children," said Cecelia Friedman, a senior policy counsel for Immigrant justice group Asista, according to the Guardian.
"Before the executive orders on immigration, the advice advocates would commonly give is that the police are here to help, that there are policies in place that protect all victims. But now, depending on the jurisdiction, those advocates may pause before giving that same advice, especially if they're seeing increased immigration raids in their communities and given the wide breadth of enforcement priorities laid out by the administration," she added.