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Study: Latinos fear reporting crimes because of deportation push

May 7, 2013 at 10:04 AM

WASHINGTON, May 7 (UPI) -- Many Latinos in the United States are now more reluctant to report crimes because police are more likely to check their immigration status, a study found.

Latinos in the country unlawfully are even less likely to contact police if they are victims of crimes, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

Fear of deportation is "really widespread" within the Latino community nationwide, said Nik Theodore, the author of the study and an associate professor of urban planning and policy at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

Some 44 percent of Latinos surveyed said they were less likely to report they have been victims of crime because they were concerned police would ask about their immigration status or that of their friends and family.

Among illegal immigrants, the feeling was even stronger: 77 percent.

Deportations under the Obama administration have increased 40 percent since 2007, to 409,849 people in fiscal year 2012.

"Trust has been undermined and that potentially has lasting implications," Theodore said.

Commenting on the study, Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., said it "highlights how local law enforcement's greater role in immigration enforcement has created mistrust between the Latino community and local police, making all of our communities less safe from crime."

The study, based on telephone interviews with 2,004 Latinos in Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago and Phoenix, was conducted Nov. 17 to Dec. 10. It was sponsored by PolicyLink of Oakland, a think tank, and conducted by Washington polling firm Lake Research Partners.

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