NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – We often hear about the crime and the victims, but what about the families left behind? Now, imagine navigating a justice system when English isn’t your first language.
Inside the Tennessee Immigrant Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) Center sits one of many men who may have not felt their pain, but has heard their plea.
“‘Good afternoon, this is Luis with TIRRC’,” said Luis Pedraza, as he answered the phone in both English and Spanish. “Over 100 calls easily if not 500 calls, the number just really depends every single month.”
Between the calls, notes, and research, Pedraza is often faced with the reality so many go through.
“You’re dealing with such a stressful time, a tragic time when you have a loved one who passed away, so you really want to make sure that you can step in and step out where it’s necessary,” explained Pedraza.
Pedraza is talking about victims of serious crimes throughout Middle Tennessee, as many simply try to navigate the system.
“For some who might not know English and most of the reports and most of what the documents are in English, it becomes all the more difficult, and if you can’t afford representation, it just adds on to the obstacles,” Pedraza said.
According to data from the Metro Nashville Police Department, those who identify as Hispanic make up nearly 15% of homicide victims. Then after the crime, many hope to send their loved ones back to their home country.
Pedraza explained it’s an important part of always remembering where you come from and all you’ve been through. However, it’s a task easier said than done sometimes.
“One thing we try to do is connect folks with the consulate, so folks who are coming from Venezuela, Columbia, they may have a more difficult time since we don’t have a consulate here, and they are either in D.C. or, for Venezuela, there is no consulate here in Nashville or in the U.S.,” Pedraza said.
There is also an underlying fear of the judicial system, specifically for immigrants, but at TIRRC, there is always a welcoming hand.
“When we are talking with folks who are facing domestic violence situations or escaping violence, we are just there to try to be a friendly face, and that’s what they need – for someone who’s willing to reach their hand out and just be a support system for them,” he said.
If you or someone you know is looking for help navigating the process that comes after being a victim of a crime, you can reach out to TIRRC at (615) 833-0384.