Encouraging Crime Reporting by Immigrants

Domestic violence is an underreported crime. Victims are hesitant to report for a variety of reasons including fear of reprisal by the perpetrator, shame, and worry that no one will believe them. The City of Cleveland, Ohio’s Division of Police noticed that undocumented immigrant victims of domestic violence were even less likely than the general public to report being a victim of domestic violence. Further complicating the issue was that, when undocumented immigrants did report crimes of domestic violence, additional barriers were preventing them from following through with the investigation and prosecution of the crime, such as a language barrier, unfamiliarity with the U.S. legal system, and fear of deportation and being separated from and unable to protect their children. The underreporting of serious crimes, including domestic violence, creates a safety risk for the community at large—when law enforcement is not notified of crimes, there is no possibility of investigation or prosecution, and the perpetrator remains at large.