Latino Life: Spotting Victims When They Don't Always Come Forward

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Not all crimes go reported and sometimes victims go without support.

Centro La Familia aims to educate community partners about how to help victims of crime. It's hosting an event called A Community Convening: Conversations Not Heard on June 6, 2018, from 8:00 a.m to 2: 00 p.m. at Wedgewood Weddings Fresno at 4584 W. Jacquelyn. Call Centro La Familia for more information (559) 237-2961or visit the website.

Centro La Familia Executive Director Margarita Rocha sat down with Latino Life host Graciela Moreno to discuss the focus of the Convening. Here is some of the conversation:

Graciela: Refresh our memories. Tell us a little bit about the services provided by Centro La Familia.

Margarita: So, Centro La Familia is an organization that's been providing services to the community for more than 40 years. And our services are working with families and individuals who are in crises.

Oftentimes, people don't know where to turn, so they start with us. Our programs include parenting programs, services for victims of crime -- that would include domestic violence, sexual

assault, human trafficking -- the social-service benefits that include Medi-Cal, CalFresh, and the likes. And, of course, our immigration services.

Graciela: So, providing a lot of resources for folks in a variety of ways, and kind of being that first link, that first connection to them, right?

Margarita: Correct. Yes.

Graciela Okay. So, you are getting ready for a convening, right? Tell us a little bit about it.

Margarita: It's meant to raise awareness in the areas for victims of crime, and in particular victims of crime who are non-citizens. Because victims of crime, obviously, have huge needs. And when you're a non-citizen,

I mean, that's twofold, threefold because you don't really know whether you can even get any services. So we're the organization --and as you said, we're the first link, because then we need to

partner with other organizations to create a full service or holistic services for our victims.

Graciela: So, tell me about some of these crimes that are maybe -- are they more prevalent among the folks that are not citizens? Is it happening to them more? Are they being targeted somehow?
What are we talking about?

Margarita: Well, definitely, a non-citizen has the added fear of, that if they report a crime that has been committed, that they could be deported, or that they won't be heard, or

that they won't receive the services. So we are the agency that, one, starts working with them, starts making the linkages, and walking them through the different processes that they need to

accomplish to be able to become stable, to be able to stay in a community and where they live. And, of course, the other area that we're going to talk about is the impact to the children,

as well.

Graciela: Okay.So, again, we're talking about victims of crime including domestic violence, sexual abuse. And, of course, we've heard a lot, especially recently, about human trafficking, right?

Margarita: Correct. Correct.

Graciela: Tell us a little bit more about that.

Margarita: The human trafficking -- and we've been doing this work for a number of years now. And the question I get, and it's a prize question, is, "It doesn't happen here, does it?"

And of course we know, with some education that's been happening by many, including ourselves, is that it happens here. And that we're not even aware sometimes who the victims are.

So our charge has been to educate the community, to have people come forward and be able to report that crime so that they can get, again, the assistance that they need.

Graciela: Because there is help out there for them, right?

Margarita: There is help.
Graciela: So, tell us a little bit about -- you said that this year's convening is going to be focusing on youth, right? Tell me about that.

Margarita: Yes. And the result is, from the convenings that we've had in the past, the audience has asked for more information on the impact for youth. And, again, the youth has the

same rights, in terms of they're a non-citizen, to be able to receive these services. But a youth, as we all know, it's even more complicated, because if they're a non-citizen

and they already, with everything that we hear in the community, in terms of immigrants and the likes of that, they are traumatized. And they don't know where to go.

And some of those same youth can -- we're trying to bring the different existing organizations, like KIND, an organization that helps with Kids In Need of Defense,

the special juvenile behavior court, law enforcement, the public defenders, and other organizations that will come together.

We will talk collaboratively about what our work is, and how do we link, and how do we better serve those children and others?

Graciela: Okay. And again, one of the many goals of these convening is to help these folks not be re-victimized, right? Because it happens a lot.

Margarita: Absolutely. Yes. Right. And, see, some of the folks who provide really, really good services aren't always aware of what other organizations, from a cultural perspective,

they could bring in to help with the victim. And so this is why we're partnering with the Department of Social Services. They will provide to the audience some of the work that

they're doing, how do we coordinate with them. Law enforcement, of course, we have a history already.

We're gonna touch on the victimization of the LGBT community, as well. So we're really wanting to bring in a nice package of information and build additional

relationships with a professional community so that it adds a holistic approach for those organizations and ourselves. We are better able to serve the victim.
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