In a nationwide operation this month, a team of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in Los Angeles approached the house of a man targeted for deportation. “Good morning, how you doing? I’m a police officer. We’re doing an investigation,” one agent said. The exchange, captured on a video released by ICE, seemed routine. It has reignited long-simmering objections from immigrant rights attorneys and advocates, who say the scene illustrates unethical or even illegal ruses ICE agents have used for years, portraying themselves as officers from local police departments to ensnare people or fool them into revealing the whereabouts of family members, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Critics say the tactic is particularly egregious in heavily immigrant cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, where police and elected officials have tried for decades to distinguish their cops from federal immigration agents, in an effort to convince immigrants living illegally in their cities that they can interact with local police without fear of deportation. With President Trump’s intention to increase dramatically the number of people ICE apprehends for deportation, immigrant advocates worry the practice of using ruses will grow even more prevalent. “There is something fundamentally unfair about ICE exploiting local and state policies that are trying to improve public safety by promoting immigrants’ trust in law enforcement,” said Frances Miriam Kreimer of Dolores Street Community Services in San Francisco. Kreimer is challenging the legality of a ruse ICE officers used to arrest a client, in which they told the man they were police officers investigating a crime.