Brooklyn Boro

Brooklyn DA hosts “office hours” for immigrants to report crimes

April 16, 2019 Noah Goldberg
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez. Eagle file photo.
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The Brooklyn District Attorney teamed up with an immigrant advocacy group Monday night to host an event for immigrants to report crimes.

The event, cohosted by Safe Horizon’s Immigration Law Project, will be held every other Monday. The next “office hours,” as DA Eric Gonzalez is labeling the event, will be April 29 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

One of the goals is to foster immigrants’ confidence in the DA’s Office. “They’ve been seeing a decline in people accessing their services,” said Evangeline Chan, executive director of Safe Horizon’s Immigration Law Project.

“They wanted to be more accessible,” she said.

A spokesperson for Gonzalez said the event was organized in response to the sharp drop in calls to the Immigration Affairs Unit, as well as to promote trust in the immigrant community.

The event is open to all immigrants in the borough, regardless of their citizenship status.

The IAU has seen a decline in calls to its hotline since 2016, according to a recent study by the ICE Out of Courts Coalition. Calls to IAU plummeted from 431 in 2016 to just 132 in 2017.

In the same period, ICE arrests outside New York courthouses have spiked by 1,700 percent since 2016, causing immigrants to fear coming to court.

Chan attributes the drop in calls — and the fear of law enforcement — to changes in national politics since President Donald Trump’s election. “There is a lot of fear, anxiety going on because of policies coming out of Washington, anti-immigrant sentiment and rhetoric,” she said.

Three people showed up to the office hours on Monday and each spoke with a representative for the Brooklyn DA. They asked questions about immigration status and reported crimes.

The specific crimes were kept confidential.


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