News/US: Illegals urged to report violent crime

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Subject: News/US: Illegals urged to report violent crime
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Wed Apr 12 2000 - 09:57:34 EDT


Illegals urged to report violent crime
By Kerry Fehr-Snyder
The Arizona Republic, April 5, 2000

She was kidnapped, beaten, raped repeatedly and impregnated.

But the 15-year-old Mexican national was too frightened to flee her
tormentor: She feared being thrown into prison for having illegally crossed
the U.S. border.

The girl eventually was deported. But the only one in prison is her
abductor, Manuel Sanchez Rios, who is serving a 28-year sentence.

The case, prosecuted last year by federal authorities, highlights a growing
problem: unreported violent crime against illegal immigrants.

In response, agencies on both sides of the border are launching the Border
Predator Initiative, which encourages victims to report crime by calling a
toll-free number, 1-800-211-3152. The initiative is backed by the U.S.
Attorney's Office and the Mexican Consuls of Arizona.

"We suspect this victim stayed with him for as long as she did because she
was here illegally," Assistant U.S. Attorney Raquel Arellano said.

Although numbers are not available, law enforcement officials believe more
criminals than ever are targeting illegal immigrants reluctant to report
robberies, kidnappings, sexual assaults and other crimes.

The hotline, which will offer help in both English and Spanish, is
advertised in a pamphlet being distributed at border inspection stations,
health agencies and government offices in both Mexico and southern Arizona.

"It's not right for them (illegal immigrants) to be raped or robbed or held
at gunpoint," Arellano said. "Just because people are here illegally
doesn't mean we won't take their cases seriously."

That's not to suggest that illegal immigrants who are victimized won't be
deported.

"We just want them to know that they won't be prosecuted," said Cathy
Colbert, a U.S. Attorney's Office spokeswoman.

The program's cost is expected to be minimal, she said, and no extra money
has been budgeted for it.

"We just want people to know there's an avenue for them to take it," she said.

Melanie Orhant <<morhant@igc.org>>
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