Like many law enforcement agencies across California, police in the desert town of Blythe say officers don’t enforce federal immigration policies. But the department’s police manual seems to suggest otherwise, offering officers guidance on how to stop people suspected of illegally entering the U.S., a misdemeanor under federal law, reports the Los Angeles Times. Blythe’s policy says that “a lack of English proficiency may be considered” as a possible criterion for police to stop someone suspected of illegal entry into the country, though the policy goes on to say that “it should not be the sole factor in establishing reasonable suspicion.” The department is one of at least 11 in California that uses blanket police manuals from Lexipol, an Irvine, Calif., company that drafts policies for law enforcement agencies.
The ACLU of Southern California sent a five-page letter to Lexipol on Wednesday, calling on the company to modify the policy. “By suggesting that officers may systematically consider characteristics widely shared by Californians to arrive at reasonable suspicion of a crime, the policy encourages profiling and illegal detentions, and runs afoul of the Fourth Amendment,” the letter reads. An attorney for Lexipol said the group’s policies are guidelines for local police chiefs, who should consider their local demographics and circumstances before turning those policies into practice.