SAN ANTONIO - When it comes to solving a crime, investigators will tell you they welcome any and all tips. But there's a growing fear that undocumented immigrants may be more reluctant to report a crime or admit to being a witness because they don't want to be deported.
There are no stats kept locally that gauge whether immigrant tips are up or down.
As for actual incidents, just last month Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were accused of taking a witness from a family violence case after the person walked out of County Court 13 at the Cadena-Reeves Justice Center in downtown San Antonio.
A Department of Homeland Security spokesperson issued a statement saying, in part:
"Immigration arrests in courthouses are necessary because some jurisdictions will not cooperate with requests to alert federal agencies.”
However, the Bexar County District Attorney's Office says that the unintended consequences make their job harder.
In a statement, District Attorney Nico LaHood said:
"We need the cooperation of victims and witnesses of crimes, regardless of their immigration status, in order to prosecute criminals."
San Antonio police echo the concern.
"If you are going to report a crime, if you're a victim of a crime or a witness to a crime, that is all we're concerned about. We have no interest in your country of origin," SAPD Sgt. Jesse Salame said.
Janie Esparza lost her only child, Isaac Orozco, in a drive-by shooting last July.
"He was my only child, so with him went everything I had, with him. It's the hardest thing I've had to do: live without him," said Esparza, who joined other crime victims at a tribute ceremony outside the Bexar County Courthouse on Thursday.
She wants justice for her son and doesn't care where the person's from if they provide the tip that results in an arrest.
"Whoever does know something, it really doesn't matter. Just call it in and say what you know," Esparza pleaded.
If you're concerned about your identity, SAPD says that you can remain anonymous when you call in. You can also withhold your name when calling Crime Stoppers at (210) 224-STOP.
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