October 2019

IZA DP No. 12721: Police Trust and Domestic Violence: Evidence from Immigration Policies

published as 'Police trust and domestic violence among immigrants: evidence from VAWA self-petitions' in: Journal of Economic Geography, 2022, 22 (2), 395 - 422

Domestic violence is a serious under-reported crime in the United States, especially among immigrant women. While the Violence against Women Act (VAWA) allows battered immigrants to petition for legal status without relying on abusive U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident spouses, we find that intensified interior immigration enforcement has curbed the VAWA self-petition rate. In contrast, sanctuary policies limiting the cooperation of police with immigration authorities have helped counteract that impact. The results, which prove robust to alternative measures of the policies, support the hypothesized changes in victims' reporting in response to the policies. Understanding survivors' responses to immigration policy is crucial given growing police mistrust and vulnerability to crime among immigrants.