D.A.: Fear Rising Among Immigrant Witnesses to Crimes

February 2, 2018. This article discusses the fear among immigrants, who are witnesses to crimes, to come forward and work with the justice system due to the increased anti-immigrant rhetoric from the federal administration. Silvia Finkelstein, director of immigrant affairs for the Nassau County district attorney, has seen the reports of immigrant-related crimes decrease substantially, from 60 calls in 2016 to 3 calls in 2017. The author goes on to discuss Finkelstein’s presentation where she discussed the economic contributions of immigrants, both documented and undocumented, to Long Island. She discussed how immigrants have a lower crime rate than the American-born population, many entered legally but overstayed their visas, their contributions to the workforce as well as state and local taxes, and their struggle with labor exploitation.

Finkelstein described a distinct chilling effect that actions and rhetoric on the federal level have had on immigrants’ willingness to help. “Given the current climate, there’s a lot of fear in the immigrant communities to come forward or participate in any way in the criminal justice system,” she said, adding that in 2017, immigrant-related crimes reported on her department’s confidential hotline were way down.

Many have found jobs. According to a 2015 study by the Fiscal Policy Institute, of the 48,000 illegal immigrants living in Nassau County, a quarter work in the construction industry and the rest are in food services, retail, child care and other jobs.

Here is the link to Liherald.

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