Despite a state law discouraging the police from turning over domestic violence victims to immigration enforcement, Colorado’s Garfield County Sheriff’s Office is doing just that. The Denver Post reports that the ACLU and Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence were rebuffed earlier this month when they asked Sheriff Lou Vallario to reconsider his department’s policies.
He defended his policies in an interview with the paper, saying:
“I don’t care what other sheriffs do. They can bend over backwards for the ACLU if they want. The only thing I see about the ACLU is that they are un-American,” Vallario said Tuesday.
“These are not victims when they walk into my jail,” he said about those arrested in connection with domestic violence. “They are arrestees. I report arrestees to federal authorities.”
While Colorado does have a 2006 law on the books requiring sheriffs to report suspected illegal immigrants they arrest to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, it makes a specific exception for the victims of domestic violence. So Vallario’s policies may be breaking state law.
The ACLU has approached other Colorado counties about this issue. Because of concerns that women will avoid reporting abuse to the police, several of them have changed their policies.
Vallario doesn’t seem to understand how the prospect of deportation might intimidate undocumented victims and discourage them from seeking help, writing in a statement to the press, “If you are a victim of a crime, you should report it and be provided all of the efforts and services available to victims of any crimes. I fully understand the dynamics of (domestic violence) and the associated difficulties with victims reporting their abuse. This is not a singular issue for the illegal immigrant population but an issue of all victims of domestic violence.”
Maybe it’s just me, but somehow, I don’t think that Vallario really “fully understands the dynamics of domestic violence.” That’s why I’ve started a petition to let Vallario know that this isn’t just about the ACLU trying to be politically correct – this policy is risking the lives of women every day it stays in place. Sign today and urge Sheriff Vallario to end this dangerous policy.
Photo credit: Mark Sebastian via Flickr