ALAMOSA — Immigrants are among the most vulnerable in the community because they live in the shadows.
They are stigmatized as less than and reconciled to the underbelly of society. This means that oftentimes they are the victims of crime. Studies have shown because immigrants are often very trusting, unfamiliar with surroundings, and have language barriers they are easy targets for criminals.
Though they are more likely to be victims of crime, immigrant victims fear to report violent crime and labor violations to law enforcement. They fear working with the criminal justice system will expose them to deportation. This vulnerability can lead to homelessness in many cases.
The San Luis Valley Immigrant Resource Center saw these experiences firsthand. Flora Archuleta, executive director of SLVIRC, can share stories of how immigrant victims of domestic abuse would contact the SLVIRC seeking assistance fleeing from an abusive partner but had nowhere to go.
Other immigrant families could find no remedy for deplorable living conditions from slum landlords and many other types of cases.
In response, SLV Immigrant Resource Center has developed a program called the Crime Victim Housing Program. The program is designed to provide funds to cover the housing costs for the victims of crime in the community. This allows immigrants to maintain their housing while coping, recovering, and planning for the future.
In particular, U-Visa applicants can really benefit from this opportunity. The U visa is a nonimmigrant visa which is set aside for victims of crimes (and their immediate family members) who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse and are willing to assist law enforcement and government officials in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity. Programs such as this promote public safety and dignity. It draws people out of the shadows and offers them the ability to contribute to making their communities better.
Continuing to address homelessness means focusing on how to make people’s lives better. These values are central to the partnership between La Puente and the San Luis Valley Immigrant Resource Center highlighted during Homeless Outreach and Prevention Education Week. In the current climate of division and tribalism, let’s focus on the values that bring us together.
As Flora Archuleta put it, “We work together or we don’t survive.” It is our commitment to one another that keeps hope alive even in our darkest times.
To support SLVIRC or to learn more about the Crime Victim Housing Program contact Angelica, (719) 587-3225 x12.