Weld County campaign to educate immigrants about preventing, reporting crime
Weld County is launching a campaign to educate immigrants about the importance of reporting crimes to the police. "We want everyone to report crime, every time," Ken Buck, the Weld County district attorney, said today at a press conference in Greeley.
That includes undocumented immigrants and refugees who may be targeted by fraudsters who figure immigrants will be hesitant to report the crimes because they're afraid of law enforcement.
"We came from a different country (where) the government is not for the people, but against the people," said Asad Abdi, a native of Ethiopia and the director of the Global Refugee Center in Greeley. The refugees -- who Abdi prefers to call "new Americans" -- "don't trust the government, so they don't come forward," he says.
Weld County is a diverse place. About 9.5 percent of its 252,825 residents were born in a foreign country, such as Mexico, Burma or Somalia, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Nearly 19 percent speak a language other than English at home. Many refugees came to Greeley to work at the JBS Swift & Company meatpacking plant.
The new campaign is called "Preventing and Reporting Crimes Against Immigrants." It will distribute free brochures and posters -- which have been translated into Spanish, Somali and Arabic -- to churches and other immigrant organizations that explain how to identify, prevent and report crime. Buck, who narrowly lost to Michael Bennet in the 2010 race for a U.S. Senate seat, and his colleagues are also offering to give free presentations to community groups about the rights of victims and witnesses.
"We are so glad to see elected officials...stepping forward," Abdi said.
One of the most common scams targeting immigrants involves "notarios," or notaries public who pose as legal experts. Notarios often offer to help undocumented immigrants obtain and fill out free, and sometimes unnecessary, immigration paperwork -- for a fee.
Page down to continue reading about the new Weld County program.