LOS ANGELES (AP) — Mayor Eric Garcetti on Tuesday expanded protections for immigrants who are in the country illegally, emphasizing the city’s refusal to help enforce the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown.
An executive directive asks the fire chief and the chiefs of airport and port police to follow the Police Department’s longtime policy of not investigating individuals to determine their immigration status.
Los Angeles “champions inclusiveness and tolerance, and welcomes everyone who seeks to realize their dreams and build their families here, regardless of national origin or immigration status,” Garcetti’s directive said.
Immigrants are the “engine” of the Los Angeles economy, with nearly two out of three residents foreign-born or children of immigrants, Garcetti said.
The directive bars any city employee from cooperating with the enforcement of federal civil immigration laws or allowing use of city money or resources for such enforcement unless legally required to do so.
Additionally, workers cannot give federal immigration agents special access to any city facility unless legally required to do so.
Jails and police agencies around the U.S. have opted in recent years not to cooperate with immigration authorities, in some cases citing federal court rulings that immigrants cannot be held in those jails strictly because of their immigration status. Other jurisdictions have passed local ordinances barring cooperation.
At a news conference, Police Chief Charlie Beck said that in his four decades with the LAPD, officers have never been involved in enforcing civil immigration law “and we never will.”
Having police act as immigration agents could harm the LAPD’s crime-fighting ability by damaging its relationship with immigrants, Beck said.
The relationship is strained when an officer “knocks on the front door to get witness information and to talk to a victim and people run out the back door,” Beck said. “And that is what we fear the most is happening in our city.”
President Donald Trump has said he plans to crack down on so-called “sanctuary cities” and other jurisdictions that do not cooperate with immigration authorities and has threatened to eliminate access to some federal grants.
On Monday, immigration officials released a list of 206 cases of immigrants released from custody by “non-cooperative” public agencies before federal agents could intervene.
Garcetti said the report was trying to pin a “scarlet letter” on those agencies and would harm relationships between federal and local governments.
Meanwhile, Garcetti and dozens of other mayors taking part in the U.S. Conference of Mayors are urging Trump and Congress to fix what they termed a “broken” immigration system.