President Trump’s insistence that federal agencies begin enforcing the law again has prompted officials in one sanctuary city to step in and ask for distinctions between federal and local law enforcement, according to Politico.
ABC7 reported that bureaucrats in the city of Los Angeles are asking that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents stop identifying themselves as “police” when conducting sweeps or raids:
Los Angeles officials have requested that agents of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement immediately cease the practice of identifying themselves as “police.”
In a letter, Mayor Eric Garcetti, city attorney Mike Feuer and Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson urged ICE agents to no longer refer to themselves as “police” while carrying out their duties in L.A.
The letter is in response to recent controversial pictures and videos showing ICE agents wearing vests that only read “POLICE.” Videos show ICE agents identifying themselves as police officers as they try to gain entry into homes.
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck and Garcetti have said on numerous occasions that LAPD officers will not take part in immigration enforcement, stating that is the responsibility of the federal government.
The concern is that ICE may be unraveling community relations work done by local police:
The letter details decades of work by the city to gain the trust of all citizens in an effort to make communities safer. That trust, the letter says, encourages witnesses and victims of crime to come forward regardless of immigration status.
“As a result, when ICE agents targeting immigrants identify themselves only as ‘police’ officers, they undermine decades of this work, eroding public safety in our city,” the later states.
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck also recently weighed in on the new ICE activity:
But Beck urged the immigrant community to not be afraid to cooperate with the police.
“Come forward. Your status has nothing to do with your contact with Los Angeles Police Department,” Beck said. “We will not give you to ICE, we will not refer you to ICE,” Beck said. “To take somebody’s liberty away without court order, without probable cause is not the kind of constitutional policing that I’m going to be a part of.”
While it may seem perfectly normal for different law enforcement agencies to draw jurisdictional boundaries, the different objectives of local and federal police in sanctuary cities can be problematic:
When federal officials began issuing detainers in 2008 under a pilot program called Secure Communities, most jurisdictions treated the requests as mandatory. But after American citizens were mistakenly held, filed suit and won costly damage awards, some jurisdictions stopped cooperating.
More confusion occurred when cities and states adopted their own policies spelling out when to turn over undocumented immigrants. As compliance with detainers dropped sharply, the Obama administration ended the program and introduced a new one allowing local jurisdictions far more leeway to decide when to cooperate.
But that has caused even more confusion among law enforcement officials, when what they want is clarity about their obligations, Mr. Thompson said.
Even though immigration enforcement is a federal duty, ICE and other federal agencies need the cooperation of local police to function effectively. The Mercury News noted:
Trump’s threat to withhold funds from sanctuary cities and this week’s memo about working more closely with local officers seem to point to the same issue: that “the federal government is at a significant information deficit,” said Pratheepan Gulasekaram, who teaches immigration law at Santa Clara University School of Law.
“The fact is, local law enforcement is much more likely to encounter people (and) know where they are,” he said. “To be able to leverage that information is very important in immigration enforcement.”
Despite the worries of local officials in Los Angeles, there is no evidence as of now that the affected communities are confusing ICE agents for local police.