Texas advocates examined the repercussions of Arizona’s SB 1070 on victim advocacy at TAASA’s (Texas Association Against Sexual Assault) Diversity Task Force meeting in May.  Isaac Harrington, VAWA attorney with Texas Civil Rights Project, and Laura Zárate, co-founder and executive director of Arte Sana, discussed the implications of this law on victims based on their personal and professional experiences.

Advocates explored the complications for both victims and service providers through the following key points:

  1. Victim rights as human rights
  2. Gap of services to immigrant populations
  3. Increased  isolation and fear within the immigrant populations
  4. Anonymization of crime against immigrant populations
  5. Concern regarding “moving, concealing, harboring aliens “– as stated in section 13-2929 of the statute
  6. Action Steps for Advocates (Created by ALAS, an online group of Latina advocates from across the country)

The topic of immigration is highly political, personal and polarizing.   The need for proactive discussion is crucial and the challenge before us is clear.  Is it possible to set aside political and personal beliefs to carefully examine the impact of this type of law on victims? The essence of advocacy is to support and promote the interests of another.  Several states are considering similar measures including Texas.  Are we as advocates prepared to assert our concerns about this type of law to elected officials and the community at large? The immigration policy debate rarely considers immigrant victims of crime. During the last Diversity Task Force meeting advocates from across the state of Texas vowed to defend and advocate on behalf of those victims.  Mother Teresa once said, “Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work.”

Thanks to the passion and foresight of victim advocates, proactive discussions on this highly charged topic are alive and well in Texas.   The upcoming legislative session promises to provoke and engage all sides of the issue.  Where do you stand?