Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said on Monday that he will not be changing his department’s stance on immigration enforcement, despite Donald Trump’s pledge to toughen federal immigration laws and pressure so-called sanctuary cities.
The LAPD has a decades long policy of excluding itself from federal immigration policies. It prohibits its officers from initiating contact with someone solely to determine their immigration status. The policy was mandated by a special order signed by then-chief Daryl Gates, who received great backlash as a result of the infamous Rodney King beating which resulted in the L.A. riots in the early 1990’s.
During Beck’s term as chief, the department has in some ways expanded the policy, no longer turning over people arrested for low level crimes to federal agents for deportation and also moved away from honoring federal requests to detain inmates who might be deportable past their jail terms.
On Monday, Chief Beck signaled that he is not backing off the departments longstanding mandate.
“I don’t intend on doing anything different. We are not going to engage in law enforcement activities solely based on somebody’s immigration status. We are not going to work in conjunction with Homeland Security on deportation efforts. That is not our job, nor will I make it our job.”
Both before and, especially after, the election, stories are rampant about immigrants and their children fearful of Mr. Trump’s immigration stance. Trump made immigration a central issue of his campaign with its cornerstone the border wall which he vowed to build with Mexico paying for the cost of its construction.
Los Angeles officials have tried to alleviate some of the concerns of undocumented immigrants by showing their support for the city’s immigrant residents.
Mayor Eric Garcetti speaking at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles said:
“If the first day, as president, we see something that is hostile to our people, hostile to our city, bad for our economy, bad for our security, we will speak up, speak out, act up and act out.
Our law enforcement officers and LAPD don’t go around asking people for their papers, nor should they. That’s not the role of local law enforcement.”
Beck also sought to reassure residents saying that his command staff has been meeting with community leaders to hear their concerns about immigration.
“This is the same LAPD you had Monday, a week ago. We have not changed because of the election on Tuesday. We have the same principles. We have the same values. This is not going to change the way that the Los Angeles Police Department enforces the law.”