Aggressive ICE tactics making Latino crime victims fearful to come forward

LOS ANGELES -- Nineteen-year-old Estefany Ortiz says Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents came to her house in Pasadena, California, last month looking for someone who did not live there.

They arrested her father, Carlos Ortiz, instead. He was in the country illegally, but had no criminal record.

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Carlos Ortiz

Ortiz family

“Why did we open the door,” Estefany said. “Nobody is going to want to open the door. Everyone is scared.”

The Los Angeles Police Department says aggressive ICE enforcement tactics are also having a chilling effect on Latinos reporting crimes, reports CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy.

Since the beginning of the year, reports of sexual assault by Latinos in LA dropped 25 percent. Domestic violence reports fell 10 percent.

“They start to clam up, they no longer come to court,” said Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye of the California Supreme Court.

Cantil-Sakauye says lawyers are telling her Latinos are now afraid to show up at courthouses. So she wrote a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions accusing federal agents of “...stalking undocumented immigrants in our courthouses to make arrests.”

“Those are strong words,” Tracy said.

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California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye

CBS News

“I feel that the courthouses are being targeted by ICE for arrests in a way that’s unprecedented,” Cantil-Sakauye replied.

“What is your concern if ICE agents are in courthouses?” Tracy asked.

“Victims aren’t going to come to court. Witnesses aren’t going to testify against bad guys in violent communities because they are afraid they are going to get arrested in court,” she said.

In a statement, ICE said “while ICE does arrest targets at courthouses, generally it’s only after investigating officers have exhausted other options.”

A proposed bill in California would bar state and local police from aiding federal immigration enforcement including turning over criminals when they’re released from jail.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell says that’s a bad idea.

“By not allowing them access to the jails … the likelihood is that they’re going to go into the communities looking for the individual,” he said.

San Francisco and New York would lose almost $25 billion combined if the Trump administration follows though on its threats to cut off funding for sanctuary cities.