By Bitta Mostofi and Ariel Zwang
February 6, 2020
In New York City, we know that immigrants are an essential part of what makes our city great. In fact, nearly 40 percent of our city’s population is foreign born, and an estimated one million New Yorkers live in a household with at least one undocumented family member.
Sadly, not all of our federal policymakers recognize the importance of our immigrant communities and the work we must do locally for our criminal justice system to work. Over the past three years, the Trump Administration has increased immigration enforcement and ramped up anti-immigrant rhetoric. And this week, in his State of the Union Address, President Trump continued to exploit tragedies and frame immigrants as a danger to our country.
This racialized rhetoric is unacceptable as it prevents survivors of crimes like domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse and more from getting the help they need to begin to heal. It’s heart-breaking and especially frustrating that this language is often cloaked in public safety, even as it puts some of the most vulnerable members of our city at greater risk. We know firsthand that many immigrants are in danger themselves.
The NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs works with local communities to ensure that all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status, have the confidence and security they need to access due process and seek safety and protection. Even with that work, Safe Horizon, a New York City nonprofit and the nation’s largest victim’s services agency, regularly sees foreign-born clients at its Immigration Law Project who remained in abusive situations because anti-immigrant rhetoric made them fear the very systems that are designed to help them.