Suspected gang members who are in the country illegally and are arrested for even minor crimes could face quicker deportation under new policies announced yesterday by Los Angeles’s top two prosecutors, the Los Angeles Times reports. City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo and L.A. County District Attorney Steve Cooley said they are partnering closely with federal immigration officials to identify gang members for deportation. Illegal immigrants appear to make up a significant portion of the gang population.
The partnership with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement marks a departure for local law enforcement, which generally keeps federal immigration officials at arm’s length. Inquiring about immigration, authorities have long argued, would spread fear across immigrant communities and make it difficult for police to investigate crimes. Delgadillo and Cooley said they are now working with federal officials to deport some gang suspects before they are convicted of new crimes. All suspected gang members charged with breaking gang injunctions as well as other offenses such as graffiti vandalism, and loitering are being checked for immigration violations. Those whose criminal records show illegal status are turned over to federal authorities. New protocols are being developed to smooth sharing of data. Delgadillo has assigned three prosecutors to the U.S. attorney’s office to help prosecute gang members for immigration violations.