SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. – Today, the County of Santa Clara, the City of San José and the Consulate General of Mexico in San Jose are embarking on an unprecedented collaboration to raise awareness of hate crimes and incidents targeting Mexican nationals, and to encourage reporting of such claims in Santa Clara County. A Memorandum of Understanding signed this morning responds to increasing concerns that hate incidents and crimes are occurring in immigrant communities within Santa Clara County but are not reported because of fear of retaliation by government agencies.
“We have a zero tolerance for hate crimes in Santa Clara County and our law enforcement agencies will work diligently to ensure potential victims know their rights, and offenders know they will be punished for their actions,” said Supervisor George Shirakawa, President County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors. “This signing is a first step to ensure immigrant communities in Santa Clara County trust those responsible for their safety and well-being.”
Anecdotal and direct testimonies involving fear of reporting hate crimes compelled representatives of the community and the County, through the Office of Human Relations, the Consulate General of Mexico in San Jose, and the City of San Jose to address such concerns. The Memorandum of Understanding outlines protocols to be followed, so those with claims can be referred by the Consulate General of Mexico in San Jose, or the County of Santa Clara Office of Human Relations, to law enforcement agencies for investigation.
“Through this Memorandum of Understanding, the Consulate General of Mexico wishes to reaffirm its commitment to work hand in hand with the officials of the County of Santa Clara and the City of San Jose to prevent incidents motivated by hate against Mexican nationals residing in the area,” said Consul General of México in San Jose, Carlos Ponce Martínez. “Close collaboration and the promotion of a culture of zero-tolerance towards these incidents among our community will be our best tool to combat such crimes and, ultimately, create a better society for all.”
The MOU signing ceremony took place today at 5:00 p.m. at the Consulate General of Mexico in San Jose, 2125 Zanker Road, San Jose, with the participation of County of Santa Clara representatives, including the Office of the District Attorney, the Office of Human Relations, the San José Police Department, the San José Independent Police Auditor and community organizations.
“Santa Clara County’s diversity is one of its strengths,” said County of Santa Clara Supervisor Dave Cortese. “Immigrants make vital contributions to the County’s economy and quality of life. We want to make sure that the entire community is aware of the seriousness of this issue. By signing this MOU, the County is taking a stand against the violation of human and civil rights.”
“Our goal is that everyone who lives and works in Santa Clara County has a right to the safety and protection provided by the law, law enforcement agencies and government policies and services, regardless of their national origin, ethnic identity or the language they speak,” said Delorme McKee-Stovall, Director County of Santa Clara Office of Human Relations. “Effective communication regarding hate motivated crimes and incidents allow law enforcement and the District Attorney to investigate and solve crimes, which ensures the safety of our community.”
Part of the MOU signing includes a protocol to train law enforcement agencies and involved organizations to respond and follow through on crime and incident claims. This is a first step in coordinating a countywide response to non-English speaking communities stressing that hate will not be tolerated in Santa Clara County.
“We are committed to investigating hate crimes or threats, but we rely on the community’s initiative and cooperation to ensure claims are promptly reported,” San José Police Chief Chris Moore. “This collaboration will help law enforcement agencies to enhance diligent community policing, and our interactions with hard-to-reach populations, so everyone feels free to report hate crimes and incidents.”
Santa Clara County is made up of people from diverse cultures, nationalities and ethnic groups. The 2010 U.S. Census estimates that approximately 36.8 percent of the county population was born outside of the United States and that 49.6 percent speak a language other than English at home (population 5 years and over).
While the number of possible hate crime cases referred to the District Attorney has gone down in the past three years, anecdotal information received by the Santa Clara County Office of Human Relations and the Consulate General of Mexico in San Jose indicates that hate crimes and hate incidents are underreported, especially in the Latino community, because victims lack understanding of the law and fear retaliation. This bi-national Memorandum of Understanding seeks to become an example of a working relationship between governments that will contribute to reducing significantly hate crimes or incidents, and immigrant fears associated with reporting them.
Media Contact: Gwendolyn Mitchell/Marina Hinestrosa, Office of Public Affairs, (408) 299-5119; Kate Jones, SCC Office of Human Relations (408) 792-2304; Ana María Osorio, Consulate General of Mexico in San Jose (408) 294-3414 Ext. 127
Posted: August 16, 2012