Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, pictured speaking to the media in 2010, told reporters on Monday that his department will continue to prohibit officers from stopping people to check their immigration status and will not change the policy if asked to do so by the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump. File photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- The Los Angeles Police Department will not enforce immigration laws should the Trump administration ask it to do so, the chief of police said Monday.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said the LAPD will continue to follow a 1979 directive not to enforce the laws, which includes turning people over to the federal government when arrested for misdemeanor crimes if they do not have legal status in the United States.
Roughly one million of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States live in Los Angeles County, making changes to immigration enforcement a potentially big issue for the area -- which is why city officials have moved in the last week to assuage nervousness among immigrants there.
"I don't intend on doing anything different," Beck said. "We are not going to engage in law enforcement activities solely based on somebody's immigration status. We are not going to work in conjunction with Homeland Security on deportation efforts. That is not our job, nor will I make it our job."
Since former LAPD Chief Daryl Gates signed a special order in 1979 prohibiting police officers from initiating contact with people solely to determine their legal status in the country, the department has slowly moved away from working in any way with federal agents on immigration issues.
President-elect Donald Trump reiterated in an interview with 60 Minutes that he intends to start deporting between two and three million undocumented immigrants within days of his inauguration into office as part of a larger effort to secure the border.
"If the first day, as president, we see something that is hostile to our people, hostile to our city, bad for our economy, bad for our security, we will speak up, speak out, act up and act out," Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said, adding that "our law enforcement officers and LAPD don't go around asking people for their papers, nor should they. That's not the role of local law enforcement."
Trump has previously said he would also cut off funding to "sanctuary cities" where police departments do not pursue undocumented immigrants, of which Los Angeles is one.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez moved to assuage fears in their city as well, with Emanuel saying during a press conference Monday that "Chicago has in the past been a sanctuary city... It will always be a sanctuary city."
"To all those who are, after Tuesday's election, very nervous, filled with anxiety -- you are safe in Chicago," Emanuel said. "You are secure in Chicago. And you are supported in Chicago. Administrations may change. But our values and principles as it relates to inclusion [do] not."