Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck announced recently that the LA Police Department will now no longer turn over illegal immigrants arrested for minor crimes to ICE authorities in order for them to be deported. The decision comes as Beck moves to define the police department’s stance on immigration issues.
Beck says that the move is important in order to balance out federal laws that require local police to hand over arrest information to federal authorities. The 2008 Secure Communities program means that law enforcement agencies have to fingerprint everyone they arrest and then pass on that information to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. Immigration officials then review the information and ask police to detain those believed to be in the United States without a visa or green card.
Beck says that while the core premise of the federal program is valid, using the power of the government and immigration enforcement in order to keep and improve public safety, that should be done by targeting serious offenders and violent criminals, something which has not always been the case and as a result has eroded public trust in the police department.
With around 750,000 undocumented immigrants in LA, Beck believes that losing the trust of these residents would be disastrous to the police’s ability to monitor and police the city effectively. People arrested for non-violent offences will no longer be subject to the policy in Los Angeles as a result of Beck’s decision.