Rockville Rape Case, Issue of Rape or Immigration?

Morgan Terry

As I’m sure most of us were troubled to hear last month, a girl at local school Rockville High just on Baltimore Rd. was raped by two other students who attended the school last Thursday March 16th earlier in the morning. Because I’m sure our readers have access to the information and because the Advocate is not here to report on crimes outside of the school, I will not re-report any information including the names of the alleged assailants.

What the advocate is here to discuss is repercussions of this event on our community. It’s no surprise that this event has prompted a number of different, opinionated discussions among the students here at Montgomery College as well as the citizens of Montgomery County. One thing that has been surprising to me has been the focus of the conversations I have heard so far. Some people seem to be focused primarily on the fact that one of the alleged rapists involved is undocumented, as opposed to focusing on the rape itself.

This then begs the question, what do we here in our community hold in higher regard- our tolerance of immigration or our tolerance of rape culture?

According to a study by The Sentencing Project, a criminal justice and advocacy group, foreign born citizens commit crimes at half the rate of native born citizens including blacks, whites, Latinos and Asians. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that Latin-American residents of the United States, documented or undocumented, account for only about 20% of crimes committed in the US.

Conversely, 63% of sexual based crimes go unreported every year with only 12% of child sexual abuse crimes reported yearly. And of that 37%, only a fraction actually go to trial and end in a conviction/jail time. Rape is the most under-reported crime in the United States, with 1 in 5 women being raped/sexually assaulted each year.

So what do these statistics mean? Well, as of late there’s been a lot of talk and focus on the “problem” of illegal immigration. While there is evidence to support the notion that there are crimes committed in the US by undocumented immigrants from countries like Mexico and El Salvador involving drug cartels and human trafficking, there is no hard evidence to support a direct connection between immigrants (documented or undocumented) and crime. There is also virtually no evidence that supports the notion that immigrants are more likely to commit crimes, or that there has been any spike in crime due to the influx of undocumented immigrants dating back to before 1950.
So it seems that it might be necessary to shift our focus, which is the issue we ought to lend our attention to more? It became abundantly clear following this incident in our own community that in our culture as of now, the immigration status of our neighbors comes before solidifying justice for our young women. This is no new debate to our community or out culture as a whole. But occasionally it becomes hard to discern between the two issues. Which is the issue? Where is it- immigration or rape culture? When you look at the facts, it may seem clear, but the topics are far more complex that can be explained in one article. Bu one thing to remember before all else, as far as the community of Montgomery College as well as Montgomery County is concerned, we are stronger together than we are divided. Our strength is our diversity, and the manner in which support that diversity is fuel on which our community thrives. Our diversity does not negate our culture or our beliefs- it perpetuates them. We support each other, we protect one another, regardless or race, gender or immigration status, and that is where our focus should always be.