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Domestic violence survivors call for support of bill that would prevent police from enforcing immigration laws

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Without trust between immigrants and police, crimes won't be reported, victims tell California lawmakers

Tri-Valley University appeared legitimate. The Bay Area school had a website, a roster of professors and a single building with classrooms in Pleasanton. When Vishal Dasa, a native of India, enrolled in 2009, he had hopes of completing a master’s degree in healthcare management.

Instead, he said he ended up painting walls, cleaning utensils and building heavy office equipment, hours of unpaid labor that he said were assigned to him by the university president, Susan Su, under the threat of deportation.

"I was afraid and used to obey her all the time because I didn't want to lose my [immigration] status," he said on Wednesday at the state Capitol. "I couldn't sleep."

Dasa was one of two crime victims who shared their stories with state lawmakers in a call for support of Senate Bill 54. The legislation, filed by Democratic lawmakers in response to the Trump administration's expanded deportation orders, would prohibit law enforcement agencies from using their resources to enforce immigration laws.

The bill is pending before the Assembly's fiscal committee and has garnered the support of some law enforcement officials, including police chiefs in Los Angeles and Long Beach. But Republican lawmakers and many county sheriffs remain vehemently opposed

In endorsing the bill last month, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said sexual assault reports had dropped 25% among the city's Latino population since the beginning of 2017, as compared with the same period last year. Domestic violence reports have fallen 10%, he said.

At a Wednesday press conference, Assemblymembers David Chiu (D-San Francisco) and Eloise Reyes (D-Grand Terrace) said the Trump administration's rhetoric against immigrants was instilling fear in neighborhoods and preventing victims and witnesses from reporting crimes.

"During this time of history, we have a president who has declared wars on our immigrant communities," Chiu said. "I can tell you as a former criminal prosecutor how important it is that we build trust with our immigrant communities."

Su is serving 16 years in prison for fraud, among other charges, related to the multimillion-dollar sham university that embroiled 31-year-old Dasa and dozens of other students, predominately from India. His collaboration with police, Dasa said, helped put her behind bars.

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