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Yesterday, the Tahirih Justice Center filed an amicus brief in a lawsuit brought by Santa Clara County and San Francisco City and County to seek a nationwide, preliminary injunction preventing enforcement of Section 9(a) of the January 25, 2017 Executive Order, Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States. The plaintiffs in the suit contend that threatening to punish cities and counties that support federal-only immigration enforcement forces jurisdictions across the country into an impossible choice: either lose billions of dollars in essential federal funding, or abandon best practices that victims’ advocates, law-enforcement officers, and local officials view as critical to ensuring public safety and prosecuting criminal activity.

This Executive Order has already caused severe harm to immigrants and local law enforcement efforts nationwide. Specifically, the Order is resulting in the erosion of community trust of local law enforcement, is deterring immigrants from accessing emergency services, and perversely, is protecting perpetrators of crime. As survivors of gender-based crimes such as sexual assault, domestic violence, and human trafficking, immigrant women like Tahirih’s clients are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of the Order. Abusers commonly exploit victims’ fears of deportation in a deliberate attempt to prevent them from reporting abuse.

Tahirih, represented by Jamie Gorelick and WilmerHale, filed the brief to highlight that survivors of gender-based crimes, who may be eligible for immigration status as a result of their victimization, are far less safe when they fear reporting violent crime to law enforcement. And ultimately, policies that deter reporting of crime put the safety of entire communities at risk. The brief states:

“The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (“VAWA”)…and the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (“TVPA”)…are designed to encourage noncitizen women to seek out emergency services, report crimes, and cooperate with local law enforcement without fear that they will be turned over to federal immigration authorities. Both statutes, and their subsequent reauthorizations, have enjoyed long-standing and widespread bipartisan support in Congress…By coercing local safety officers into enforcing federal immigration laws, the Order deters the very reporting and cooperation those Acts sought to engender. It puts survivors at risk of deportation simply for seeking protection from their abusers—precisely the outcome Congress sought to prevent.”

Joining the brief as co-amici with the Tahirih Justice Center were Asian Law Alliance, Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence, ASISTA, Casa de Esperanza, Dolores Street Community Services, Immigration Center for Women & Children, Maitri, and Pangea Legal Services.

Archi Pyati, Chief of Policy and Programs, or Layli Miller-Muro, Chief Executive Officer, are available for comment on this topic. Please contact [email protected] to arrange an interview.