TUCSON, Arizona – Undocumented immigrants who are the victims of domestic violence could be among those most negatively affected by the entry into force of the Arizona law that allows police to question the immigration status of people they arrest.
“I have several cases of women who are terrified of talking to the police. They are terrorized, they’re afraid that (the police) could separate them from their children who are citizens of this country and they could be deported to their countries of origin, places that often they don’t know because they were brought while very small to the U.S.,” Martha Angel Castillo, a volunteer with the Tucson May Day Coalition, told Efe.
“I think it’s inconceivable that in the name of a law whole families can be separated and the most basic and fundamental rights of individuals and children can be violated,” she added.
Last month, Subsection 2(b) of Arizona’s SB 1070 immigration law entered into force.
That provision, popularly known as “show me your papers,” requires state and local law enforcement to question the immigration status of anyone they stop who they suspect is undocumented.
“I don’t understand why there’s so much hate against our community, against Latinos,” Castillo said.
Though police and sheriff’s departments have declared that crime victims and witnesses will not be questioned about their immigration status, the activist says that this is not true.
Castillo gave as an example the case of Maria Estela Calderon Valdez, an undocumented immigrant from the Mexican state of Sonora.
The activist said Calderon was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in June 2011 after she asked the Tucson police for help because her husband was beating her again.
“Her husband, a U.S. citizen, immediately told the officers that she was undocumented. They asked Maria Estela to come outside and they contacted ICE, (whose agents) arrived in less than 10 minutes to detain her,” Castillo said.
Since then, Calderon has been in a detention center for undocumented immigrants in Arizona and is fighting to stop her deportation and request a U visa, created for crime victims.
Castillo said that this case shows what undocumented women who are the victims of domestic violence must put up with.
“Maria Estela spent several years being a victim, and this was not the first time she asked for help from the authorities,” the activist said.
Tucson police told Efe they had a record of two telephone calls related to domestic violence at Calderon’s home in 2005 and 2007, but they said that they had no record about the 2011 incident, when allegedly the undocumented immigrant was brought to the attention of ICE.
Although the department would not comment on this particular case, it said that crime victims should not be afraid of contacting the authorities. EFE