Po­lice chief: Los An­ge­les won’t aid Trump’s de­por­ta­tion ef­forts

The Washington Post - - POLITICS & THE NATION - BY PETER HOLLEY [email protected]­post.com

Don­ald Trump has pledged to be­gin de­port­ing mil­lions of un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants as soon as he takes of­fice next year.

For now, Los An­ge­les Po­lice Chief Char­lie Beck has no plans to help him do it.

“We’re go­ing to main­tain the same pos­ture we al­ways have,” Beck told KNX-AM 1070 on Mon­day. “We don’t make de­ten­tions or ar­rests based solely on sta­tus, whether that’s im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus or any other sta­tus.”

“If the fed­eral gov­ern­ment takes a more ag­gres­sive role on de­por­ta­tion, then they’ll have to do that on their own,” he con­tin­ued.

Beck called any ef­fort to ar­rest and de­port peo­ple a “mon­u­men­tal task” and es­ti­mated that there are 500,000 un­doc­u­mented res­i­dents in the city of Los An­ge­les alone. “This is a pop­u­la­tion we po­lice by cre­at­ing part­ner­ships, not by tar­get­ing them be­cause of their im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus,” he added.

Since the ear­li­est days of his cam­paign, Trump has made im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment a cen­tral pil­lar of his con­tro­ver­sial mes­sage to vot­ers. He has promised to build a mas­sive wall along the U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der, said that many un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants were “rapists” and pledged to ag­gres­sively de­port mil­lions of peo­ple.

In an in­ter­view that aired Sun­day, the pres­i­dent-elect told “60 Min­utes” cor­re­spon­dent Les­ley Stahl that he would de­port 2 mil­lion to 3 mil­lion un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants who “have crim­i­nal records.”

“What we are go­ing to do is get the peo­ple that are crim­i­nal and have crim­i­nal records, gang mem­bers, drug deal­ers — we have a lot of these peo­ple, prob­a­bly 2 mil­lion, it could be even 3 mil­lion — we are get­ting them out of our coun­try or we are go­ing to in­car­cer­ate,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to The Wash­ing­ton Post Fact Checker, Trump prob­a­bly gets these es­ti­mates from a De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity fis­cal 2013 re­port say­ing there were 1.9 mil­lion “re­mov­able crim­i­nal aliens.” How­ever, that fig­ure in­cludes un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants and peo­ple who are law­ful per­ma­nent res­i­dents, or those who have tem­po­rary visas.

As for how many of those peo­ple are il­le­gally present nonci­t­i­zens, there are con­flict­ing fig­ures from the Mi­gra­tion Pol­icy In­sti­tute think tank and the Cen­ter for Im­mi­gra­tion Stud­ies. In a fact check, The Post rated Trump’s fig­ures “Two Pinoc­chios,” not­ing that fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment data is “not al­ways trans­par­ent or re­li­able.”

Al­ready, un­der Pres­i­dent Obama’s or­ders, an in­creas­ing per­cent­age of those de­ported are peo­ple with crim­i­nal records, ac­cord­ing to the DHS. In fis­cal 2015, 91 per­cent of “re­movals and re­turns” were peo­ple pre­vi­ously con­victed of a crime, com­pared with 86 per­cent in fis­cal 2014 and 67 per­cent in fis­cal 2011.

If there was one lo­ca­tion in the United States in which Trump could make the largest dent in the coun­try’s un­doc­u­mented pop­u­la­tion, it would be sprawl­ing Los An­ge­les County, where ci­ti­zens and nonci­t­i­zens have lived side by side for decades.

Al­most a quar­ter of the na­tion’s 11 mil­lion un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants live in Cal­i­for­nia, ac­cord­ing to the Public Pol­icy In­sti­tute of Cal­i­for­nia. With an un­doc­u­mented pop­u­la­tion of nearly 815,000, ac­cord­ing to the PPIC, Los An­ge­les County has more un­doc­u­mented res­i­dents than any county in the state.

Though es­ti­mates vary, ex­perts cal­cu­late that more than 1.6 mil­lion il­le­gal im­mi­grants live in Texas, mak­ing it sec­ond only to Cal­i­for­nia in the size of its un­doc­u­mented pop­u­la­tion.

The Los An­ge­les Po­lice De­part­ment has spent decades avoid­ing a sig­nif­i­cant role in the en­force­ment of fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies, even as the city’s un­doc­u­mented pop­u­la­tion swelled.

Fol­low­ing a spe­cial or­der by then-Chief Daryl Gates in 1979 that stopped of­fi­cers from in­quir­ing about some­one’s im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus, the Los An­ge­les Times re­ported, the LAPD has for decades man­aged to re­main out­side the con­tentious im­mi­gra­tion de­bate.

In a sub­se­quent in­ter­view with the Times, Beck re­it­er­ated that work­ing with the DHS on de­por­ta­tion is not the po­lice de­part­ment’s job. “I don’t in­tend on do­ing any­thing dif­fer­ent,” he said. “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.”

Un­veiled in 1979, Spe­cial Or­der 40 di­rected LAPD of­fi­cers to “not ini­ti­ate po­lice ac­tion” in an ef­fort to as­cer­tain some­one’s le­gal sta­tus. Of­fi­cers were in­structed to no­tify what was then the U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Nat­u­ral­iza­tion Ser­vice af­ter ar­rest­ing some­one “for mul­ti­ple mis­de­meanor of­fenses, a high grade mis­de­meanor or a felony of­fense” or some­one who “has been pre­vi­ously ar­rested for a sim­i­lar of­fense.”

“The Los An­ge­les com­mu­nity has be­come sig­nif­i­cantly more di­verse dur­ing the past sev­eral years with sub­stan­tial numbers of peo­ple from dif­fer­ent eth­nic and so­ci­o­log­i­cal back­grounds mi­grat­ing to this City,” the or­der states. “Many aliens, whether from Latin Amer­i­can, African, Asian or Euro­pean coun­tries, are le­gal res­i­dents. Oth­ers are un­doc­u­mented and are re­sid­ing in the City with­out le­gal sanc­tion.”

Since Beck be­came po­lice chief in Novem­ber 2009, the Times re­ported, the de­part­ment has gone even fur­ther to re­move it­self from play­ing a role in de­por­ta­tions. Of­fi­cers no longer hand peo­ple “ar­rested for low-level crimes to fed­eral agents for de­por­ta­tion and [have] moved away from hon­or­ing fed­eral re­quests to de­tain in­mates who might be de­portable past their jail terms,” the pa­per re­ported.

Beck told the Times that his com­mand staff has met with com­mu­nity lead­ers and has de­liv­ered a con­sis­tent mes­sage when asked about im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment.

“This is the same LAPD you had Mon­day, a week ago,” he said. “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.”

The Times re­ported that Los An­ge­les Mayor Eric Garcetti also re­it­er­ated that po­lice would con­tinue to en­force Spe­cial Or­der 40.

“Our law en­force­ment of­fi­cers and LAPD don’t go around ask­ing peo­ple for their pa­pers, nor should they,” he said. “That’s not the role of lo­cal law en­force­ment.”

Though Trump has threat­ened to with­hold fed­eral tax dol­lars, may­ors of U.S. cities across the coun­try have promised to pro­tect their res­i­dents from de­por­ta­tion.

New York Mayor Bill de Bla­sio even left open the pos­si­bil­ity of delet­ing a data­base with the names of hun­dreds of thou­sands of un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants liv­ing in New York. He was joined in op­po­si­tion by Chicago’s Rahm Emanuel and Seat­tle’s Ed Mur­ray, both of whom have pledged to re­sist ef­forts to de­port their res­i­dents.

“Seat­tle has al­ways been a wel­com­ing city,” Mur­ray said Mon­day, ac­cord­ing to ABC News. “The last thing I want is for us to start turn­ing on our neigh­bors.”

NICK UT/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Los An­ge­les Po­lice Chief Char­lie Beck, shown in Oc­to­ber. “I don’t in­tend on do­ing any­thing dif­fer­ent,” Beck said this week.

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