Despite President-elect Donald Trump’s promise to deport millions of undocumented immigrants, a stance he maintained throughout his campaign (and by all accounts, still plans to enforce upon taking office), the Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, Charlie Beck, made it clear on Monday, November 14, that the LAPD has no plans to comply with Trump’s policy by stating it will not change their current position on immigration enforcement.
The LAPD has long maintained its distance from getting involved in federal immigration policies, having been prohibited from stopping any person based solely on the suspicion of their immigration status through a special order, known as Special Order 40, introduced and signed by former LAPD police chief Daryl Gates in 1979. Since then, officers have also refrained from turning undocumented immigrants over to federal officials for deportation based on petty crimes, while actively shunning federal requests to hold inmates who have served their sentences for longer periods in order to allow more time to deport them.
When speaking to the press, Chief Beck stated this separation from federal agents tasked with immigration and deportation issues will not change. He said, “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.”
This may come as a shock to Mr. Trump, as it would appear he believes he now has absolute power (he doesn’t) to do, say and act in any manner he deems fit and everyone will go along with it. Given the new information recently released regarding his surprise and confusion regarding what his job as Commander in Chief actually entails, this could put a damper on his grandiose, albeit painfully misguided, master plan to rid the country of those he personally views as “unfit” to reside in the United States.
Los Angeles currently houses the nation’s largest Latino immigrant population; as such, the city’s residents have been gripped with fear and anxiety over their status in the country. Especially those with any type of criminal history, no matter how small the infractions may be. Families are fearful they will be torn apart, separated from each other or worse yet, sent back to a place they no longer consider home. The increase in violent, hateful and shameful incidents since Trump was elected has left even the most vulnerable paralyzed by fear. The Los Angeles Unified School District has since begun offering counseling services to children who fear their parents might be taken away from them, leaving them orphaned in the country in which they were born.
Trump has publicly claimed he plans to deport around three million immigrants, particularly those who have been in trouble with the law before. Though Trump himself has faced countless legal issues of his own (and continues to face plenty more), he feels justified in his position based on his own citizenship (of which, like the majority of us, is the result of our ancestors emigrating to the country in hopes of a better life).
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, while speaking to affiliates of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles on Friday of last week, said, “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.”
In addition to the LAPD’s stance, Colorado’s Denver Police Department also stated on Monday they would not be participating in Trump’s proposed deportation plan. A written statement provided by Doug Schepman, Denver’s police spokesperson, read, “Immigration enforcement is handled at the federal level, not by local law enforcement. The Denver Police Department has not participated in those enforcement efforts in the past and will not be involved in the future.”
In the absurdity and chaos of Trump and his supporters’ views on what exactly making America ‘Great Again’ means, I can’t help but be reminded of the song “Icky Thump” by the great White Stripes: “White Americans, what? Nothing better to do? Why don’t you kick yourself out? You’re an immigrant too!”
Kudos to the LAPD and Denver PD for taking a public stand with confident grace and lack of fear. One can hope more law-based institutions and the general public alike will continue to follow suit.