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287(g): The Fall-Out

On January 19 The Herald-Sun (Durham) reported that at a recent Police Executive Research Forum held in the Research Triangle Park, Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez said the problem of undocumented immigrants being victimized by crime and then being too afraid to report it to police is of deep concern to him and other law officers nationwide.

Chief Lopez said fear among immigrants regarding reporting crime is prevalent nationwide. He noted that the problem exists in Durham, but has diminished.

"Many of these individuals don’t report crimes now, but it could be a lot worse," Lopez said. "We’ve been very fortunate that this community has come forward to some extent. And we also have partners in this community who are trusted by the undocumented populations that we can go to, speak to and get messages to in order to keep them safer. And it also keeps other citizens safe in the city."

The Chief said it’s unacceptable for undocumented immigrants to be targeted by criminals.

"They should not be victims of crime, and we are interested, because when an individual may attack an undocumented person, they’re often only attacking that person because they believe they’re undocumented. But it could be that they are attacking an American citizen, and not realizing it."

The forum is a national organization of police executives based in Washington.

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