OVC Provider Forum Transcript

International Victims
Alan Lai  -  2006/9/20
My understanding is that until recently, local & state police and most social workers did not have to report undocumented aliens' status in most circumstances. I'm confused about how things may have changed since 9/11 and the new anti-terrorism laws, as well as some of the VAW act ammendments which support deportation for all kinds of family and other offenses. The basic question: what are the guidelines for police and social workers on reporting to immigration authorities? Many thanks!
1.  Alan Lai
 I cannot speak for all the undocumented immigrant situations. If it is related to human trafficking cases or criminal cases, victims should not be afraid to speak up against their perpetrators. Start calling the non-government offices to report the crime, tell the truth and work with law enforcement. I had worked with cases that had brought criminals to justice despite of victims immigration status. Certain categories of victims get temporary residency status which eventually lead them to permanent ones.
2.  Saneta Maiko
 You are right Alan, however lets face the fact.culture and language go hand in hand and there is no culture if there is no language and to some extent vice versa. For instance, if I want to use immigrant volunteers and the Board of Directors clearly stipulate that all volunteers should go through background check. What do you think should be done to those immigrants who don't have a visa leave alone a social security number and yet they love their immigrant community that they want to care for especially when victimized?
3.  Alan Lai
 This has been kind of uphill battle for my 20+ years career in crime victim advocacy. As victim advocates, we can continue to speak up for our victims in all levels of legal proceedings. The way domestic violence (DV) cases and human trafficking cases are dealt with nowadays inspires me that there are indeed lights at the end of the tunnel. In DV cases in Washington State, there is mandatory arrest when probable cause of physical violence is found. In human trafficking cases across the nation, law enforcement has acknowledged and embraced the intervention of non-government offices to help crime victims. I take it one case at a time to prove the value of cultural sensitive victim service makes difference in the outcome of the case. When I find a believer in law enforcement, I request my service to be introduced to their associates and we exchange on providing culturally competent service to victims.
4.  Renee
 Mr. Lai: I agree that police officers and members of the legal system would do well to listen to clients and look at body language. The problem I have seen is that so many of those in the legal arena are simply not trained to do that, and several of my sexual assault clients have been retraumatized. Can you recommend how we can go about training policelegal providers to be more sensitive in this area?
5.  danielle l
 we don't report to immigration authorities. the immigration issue is a federal issue and the federal govt has ICE to enforce the immigration laws. As social service providers, civil courts, civil service providers-immigration status should have nothing to do with how we administer services. They may affect what services we can provide, but again Title VI warns us to not discriminate against people for language or nationality, etc. To date we are not beholden to ICE to do their job for them. The legislation up for consideration today is trying to change that.
6.  Alan
 I personally think that the law enforcement should have an open mind when they deal with the immigrants. They should abandon any assumptions when they work with the immigrants. Use their professional attitude to listen to them and look for body languages. When there is language barrier, call in professional interpreters to assist with the interview. Then, they won’t be jumping into the wrong conclusion as some crime are many times hidden beneath the surface. I believe none of us want to re-traumatize a victim by missing out the point.
Thanks Lai for your focus in crime victim care/ advocacy. I come from Kenya and founder of Crime Victim Care of Allen County, Indiana. I have a heart for victims of crime in Africa and more especially Kenya. Victims of HIV AIDS, child prostitution, rape and sexual assault. I know this is something that the department of justice in my country might not be ready to utilize and wonder how best I can start an international office for victims of crime in my country. Do you think there is a way I can work through the U.S. Embassy to start this kind of service for victims of crime in my country?
1.  Saneta Maiko
 Do you think there is any other effective way we can help immigrant domestic violent victims without necessarily reporting them to the law enforcement? Working with immigrants here in Indiana, I have realized the dangers associated to reporting the perpetrator to the police or court systems. Most Africans often deal with domestic violence and other assaults in a more traditional style that maintains harmony and peace in the community. However, in this country those procedures don't work well. Do you have any idea of how best we can be of help to immigrant victims of crime rather than taking them to jail?
2.  Saneta Maiko
 Greetings Lai,I am writing to see whether you have any wisdom in this area. What happens when you deal with crime victims on transit? In other words, the crime perpetrator and the victim live in the States but this victimization occured back in their original country. In this case domestic violence here was never reported in their county but now the victim wife has come to report the trauma she is going through caused by past domestic violence victimization. Do you think this victim deserves legal or psychological support and if so under what grounds?
3.  Alan Lai
 Great! I am looking forward to sharing more information with you on the International Visitor's Program or the other contact, Saneta. My phone number is (206) 624-5633,x111.
4.  Saneta Maiko
 Thanks Alan,I see there is something that can be done using the US Embassy in Kenya. I think I need to pursue this and see whether we can have few individuals who could come and be traained on crime victim advocacy and care. I will give you a call next week for more dicusssion
5.  Alan
 The International Visitors’ Program of the US State Department has been sponsoring visitors from countries from all over the world for exchange of information and strategies to fight crime. State In the last few years I have been doing exchange with visitors from different countries. For the child prostitution that you mentioned, Ambassador John Miller, Director of Officer to Monitor & Combat Trafficking in Persons shall be an excellent ally. His office web link is: www.state.govgtip. They would be a good government contact point. And below listed are some non-government entity: World Affairs Council, www.world-affairs.org ; International Justice Mission, www.ijm.org;Feel free to call on me at (206) 624-5633, x111 for more information sharing.
Dr. Lai, Please address how we can gain better understanding from legislators and public officials in upholding and protecting rights and protections for imm. victims. What methods have greater impact? How do we make it clear that imm. victims are not taking advantage of our systems.
1.  Alan Lai
 Thank you for mentioning me. And with your great insight and wonderful intention, we can be working on the same side. Sometimes, it takes some tragedy to get more attention to the policy makers and local officials. I also believe in proactive steps and I shall continue to make use of all the positive opportunities to make our voices heard.
2.  danielle l
 Are you suggesting invoking compliance to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act? I've been steadily trying to introduce this to our nonprofit. Who would be the best party to call the attention and respect of policy makers and local officials? Perhaps you?
3.  Alan
 In the past few years, I can see a trend of more concern to address cultural sensitivity and language barriers to work with immigrant victims. For example, to deal with human trafficking, the federal government is emphasizing in enlisting the non-government offices to help the victims to break the silence and enhance their cooperation. Squeaky wheels get the grease. To bring in more legislators buying into the concept, we need to work together to advocate for the immigrant victims. To help their voice to be heard, we all need to be more outspoken for them.
What are the best outreach methods and vehicles to ensure that the Chinese of our community are aware of their rights and protections?
1.  Alan
 A Chinese proverb says,” When I die, I do not want to go to hell. As long as I am living, I would not set my foot in any government office.” To tackle the traditional belief takes time and patience. I suggest conducting community workshops in the Chinese community with Chinese interpreting and translation service to the target audience. Advertise the event in both the English and local ethnic newspapers. Use presenters who have the cultural expertise to address the traditional Chinese culture and the local norms and laws. Take the education opportunity as a process in developing the trust. Sometimes, do it when there is some crisis situation in the community is good opportunity since the Chinese character for crisis means danger and opportunity. In crisis, people tend to be more ready to come and listen.
Dr.Lai, kidnapping has become very prevalent in the Americas (Central, Carribean and South America). US citizens and residents are especially attractive due to a perceived notio that they are "wealthy". These victims upon release return home in a very traumatised state. Are there any provisions to help these victims after this disastrous financial ordeal ?
1.  Alan Lai
 Since the crime is committed across the border, I believe the local victim advocates on the US side can work closely with at least two offices. First is the US embassy office where the crime occurred. Contact any overseas advocate that may have already worked with and established a relationship with the victim to ensure the continuity of professional help. Second is the FBI Legal Attache Offices (Legats) in US embassies and consulates around the world. Their link is: www.fbi.govcontactlegatlegat.htm. And if the victim has a cultural background different from the mainstream American, bring in advocates who are familiar with the victims culture. One important thing to do is to prepare the victim of the possible overwhelming contact by the mass media. To answer your question in short, the provision is there. Just like any complicated criminal cases, well- coordinated teamwork to help the victim should be our priority.
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