Campus News

New Yorker writer speaks on immigration, criminal justice

Sarah Stillman, a staff writer at The New Yorker and one of this semester’s Public Affairs Writers in Residence, said there is an “increasing convergence of overcriminalization in the realm of justice policies” in today’s society.

Image By: Brandon Moe

Students, faculty and UW-Madison community members gathered in the Discovery Building Tuesday to learn about crimmigration — the intersection of immigration law and criminal law.

Sarah Stillman, a staff writer at The New Yorker and one of this semester’s Public Affairs Writers in Residence, said there is an “increasing convergence of overcriminalization in the realm of justice policies” in today’s society.

Stillman said with the increased risk of deportation in the U.S., many families are now reluctant to call law enforcement when they need help. She said this fear leads to underreported crime.

“The unspoken toll of the massive number of undocumented people who feel they have no means of becoming documented is that families can become more hesitant about calling law enforcement,” Stillman said.

According to Stillman, the fear that leads to underreported crime is perpetuating crime in the immigrant population. She said that the report rate of sexual assault among the Latin American population has decreased 25 percent since President Donald Trump came into office.

Fear of reporting crime encourages criminals to “prey upon undocumented families” as they are less likely to face legal action, according to Stillman. She cited this as a consequence of an executive order that Trump signed into action, which holds local law enforcement officials accountable for enforcing immigration policy.

“Trump enacted an executive order to essentially deputize local law enforcement to take the role of actual immigration enforcement,” Stillman said. “Right now they are separate entities, but this would make local officers essentially the equivalent of ICE agents.”

Stillman said that although it may be difficult, she sees the most change when immigrants have the courage to tell their stories.

“To me, the single most hope-inducing thing that I’ve seen is the ways in which these voices have stepped forward with stories and the leadership that’s been shown within these communities,” she said.

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