Joint Police-ICE Operations a ‘Sanctuary City’ Loophole

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After Donald Trump won the presidential election, the Los Angeles Police Department announced that it would not help the new administration with its plans for mass deportations. “We are not going to work in conjunction with Homeland Security on deportation efforts,” Police Chief Charlie Beck said. “That is not our job, nor will I make it our job.” Officials in New York, Chicago, and other major cities followed suit, creating the impression that self-proclaimed sanctuary cities would be the first line of defense for undocumented immigrants in the face of a Trump crackdown, reports BuzzFeed. Los Angeles Chief Beck pointed to a long-standing city policy known as Special Order 40, which prohibits police from approaching people with the sole purpose of determining their immigration status.

There is a large loophole in the LAPD’s stated policy of non-cooperation with federal immigration authorities: extensive operations carried out jointly by the LAPD and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, typically focused on transnational gangs. The justification is that the operations target criminal activity rather than immigration status, which is a civil matter. However, in two operations conducted jointly by LAPD and ICE in the past year, at least nine undocumented immigrants — who were not charged with, convicted of, or suspected of committing any crimes — were arrested by LAPD officers and immediately transferred to the custody of ICE, which began deportation proceedings against them. The incidents occurred within the framework of routine LAPD-ICE cooperation under patchy oversight from the police department, leading advocates to believe they were not isolated or anomalous. Legal experts and immigrant rights advocates said these arrests were likely in contravention of Special Order 40. Joint LAPD-ICE operations involve police officers and federal agents acting in concert, thus eliminating the distinction between the two in the eyes of the immigrants who face deportation as a result.


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