This is a short observational article about crimes of all kinds against immigrants, and how they often go unreported.
E-bike Crime has been an unfortunate, and regular occurrence here in NYC.
Sometimes, the victims are “lucky” to come back to find their E-bike was merely missing, vs. being held up at knifepoint or gunpoint, which has been the recent problem with the string of robberies in East Harlem. An armed gang of men on motorcycles terrorized E-bike deliverymen all of February. Sadly, a 29-year-old man, who lost his job and was forced to deliver for the apps, lost his life after refusing to give up his E-bike to armed robbers, leaving behind a fiancee’ and a family in Mexico who depended on him to send money home.
A Hispanic 62-year-old man was sucker-punched in the Bronx in an unprovoked attack. Now he and his wife have to worry about how to pay the hospital bill, which SHOULD be taken care of by VICTIM’s Services. Recently, Asian-Americans have been the target of many unprovoked attacks, including a man who was sucker-punched trying to protect his wife from a menacing man who was making sexual comments to her in Central Park, by an attacker who was just released from prison: https://www.foxnews.com/us/asian-man-punched-central-park.
Thankfully, in New York, both victims and witnesses can feel safe coming forward, but it does not always mean that they will do so.
Immigrants are less likely to report crimes, fearing deportation. This makes them easy targets.
One evening, I was “busking” (playing guitar) in front of the Bank on my usual corner in the Bronx. Two taxis, the front one being a green cab, and the rear one being a livery TLC, almost got into an accident. Then the man in the rear car got out and punched the man, who happened to be Bangladeshi, in the eye, and drove off. Having witnessed everything, I called 911. I asked him if he wanted medical attention. At first, he said yes, but then wouldn’t go to the hospital, as he had nowhere to park his cab. The ambulance came immediately, however, the police came maybe 15 minutes later. This is a very long response time for NYC. I gave what I could of my witness account. At first, they just wanted to “see my license”. I explained that I do not bring my wallet when I practice guitar on the street. Even though I was born in Brooklyn, I have been pulled over just to “see where I am from”, just as countless others have, in the Bronx. The officers were not terribly interested in helping the man, or in helping find the attacker. When I went back to the officer’s car to make sure they had everything they needed, they said, “WE GOT IT!” as if I was “bothering them”. The taxi driver who was attacked was grateful and asked to take my number, which I gave him.
During this pandemic, and the “shelter in place” orders, women and children have been victims more often than they would be in regular circumstances. Unable to escape their attackers, they put up with the abuse, sometimes, with deadly consequences.
The Federal Violence Against Women Act protects women and families who are victims of abuse: https://www.womenshealth.gov/relationships-and-safety/get-help/laws-violence-against-women, but many domestic abuse victims would rather live in their current situations than risk going to the police. Although in New York, immigrants are not asked their status, this is not the case in other cities such as Houston, as Texas enacted tough immigration laws, and I.C.E. agents are called immediately, even when they are trying to do what’s right. This makes it not only less likely for victims to come forward but witnesses, making the job harder for police to arrest perpetrators in violent crimes.
Hotline counselors at the domestic abuse centers will inform callers of their legal rights and encourage them to disclose their immigration status so that they can be advised on applying for special legal protections that may be available. But this does not mean that victims are willing to do so.
Victims of sexual assault and domestic violence can be granted permission to stay in the United States under what is known as a U visa, perhaps permanently, if they assist the police in their investigation. https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/battered-spouse-children-and-parents
But a there is a statutory cap of 10,000 such visas per year. According to an article in the New York Times in June 2018, 2017 saw 33,500 assault victims applied for U visas — more than three times the number that were available.
Hopefully, with a new President and Vice President in place, as well as more light being shed on immigrant issues here in NY, and everywhere, we can find help for our vulnerable friends in the community. Anyone who is a victim of any kind should feel safe coming forward and getting help, without fear of deportation, or other repercussions.
Kama Linden is a singer-songwriter with 4 studio albums, the newest being, “Everything In Good Time”, releasing in Summer 2020. She is also an actress, fitness instructor, freelance photographer, and has a fitness book: “Healthy Things You Can Do In Front Of The TV”.