Police chiefs from across the U.S., including several from states that voted for Donald Trump, are pushing back on White House moves to force them to become more involved in deporting undocumented immigrants, The Guardian reports. In a joint letter, more than 60 law enforcement heads are appealing to Trump in all but name to soften his aggressive drive to enlist police officers in the highly contentious job of deporting millions of immigrants living in the U.S. without permission. They object to being thrust into “new and sometimes problematic tasks” that will undermine the balance between the local communities they serve and the federal government, and “harm locally-based, community-oriented policing.” The letter is signed by 61 current and former local police chiefs and sheriffs, many of whom come from states won by Trump, including Alabama, Arizona, Florida, South Carolina and Texas.
The political diversity and geographic spread of the signatories underlines the deep apprehension felt by many within the law enforcement community toward the president’s plans to beef up their role in rounding up, detaining and ultimately deporting huge numbers of people. The letter, written under the auspices of the Law Enforcement Immigration Task Force, a coalition of senior law enforcement experts convened by the National Immigration Forum, does not mention Trump by name. It indirectly references his administration’s efforts to force police to play a more central role in the deportation business. It was released to coincide with yesterday’s hearing by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs under the provocative title “the effects of border insecurity and lax immigration enforcement on American communities.” Signers include Boston Police Commissioner William Evans; commander of the Los Angeles county sheriff’s office, Jody Sharp; and Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown.