Law enforcement leaders across the nation are opposing President Donald Trump’s efforts to make them become more involved in the rounding up, detainment and ultimate deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.
More than 60 law enforcement heads penned a letter to the president on Monday, Feb. 27, asking him to soften his aggressive approach to get local police to assist in his initiative to deport undocumented immigrants. Though the group did not refer to Trump by name, they alluded to his stringent policies regarding immigration and recent efforts to force police to play a larger role in the deportation process.
“Our immigration problem is a national problem deserving of a national approach,” the Law Enforcement Immigration Task Force, a coalition of senior law enforcement officials, wrote. “And we urge Congress to lead the way in working toward taking the necessary steps to fix our broken system through permanent legislative solutions.”
“[But] in doing so, we hope that this committee will avoid taking actions that could harm community trust and make it harder for state and local law enforcement agencies to do our jobs,” they continued.
In their letter, current and former police chiefs from states won by Trump in the contentious 2016 election asserted that immigration enforcement is the government’s responsibility and that forcing such “problematic tasks” like deportation on state and local police agencies could undercut “the delicate federal balance and harm locally based, community-oriented policing.”
The signatories, which also included local sheriffs and lieutenants, went on to argue that the expertise and resources of their officers should be strictly reserved for targeting threats from dangerous criminals or criminal organizations that cause harm to their communities.
As he promised on the campaign trail, Trump has beefed up federal efforts to quash illegal immigration in the U.S., with more stringent legislation reportedly to come. His rigid immigration policies have sparked intense public backlash, especially his recent move(s) to expand the definition of who will be deported, hire larger numbers of federal immigration agents and co-op police forces into the government’s deportation efforts.
The Guardian reported that Trump has since reinstated the Secure Communities Program, an initiative commissioned under the Bush administration that expanded information sharing between local police and federal immigration agencies. His administration also has pushed for renewed focus on 287(g) agreements between local law enforcement and the federal government, which permit local police officers to carry out immigration enforcement themselves, according to the publication.
Orlando Police Chief John Mina was one of many senior law enforcement officials who signed the letter. A public information officer with Orlando PD told Atlanta Black Star that the department currently does not have the authority to enforce immigration law.
“We’re aware of President Trump’s executive orders as they relate to
Police Chief Mina was not available for comment.
Since taking office, Trump has threatened to not only remove undocumented immigrants who’ve been convicted or suspected of a crime but also individuals who the government perceives to be a threat to public safety. The president also warned that he would go after “sanctuary cities,” cities that provide certain protections to undocumented immigrants, by halting their federal funding.
In the letter, members of the task force argued that there is no set definition to determine “sanctuary jurisdictions” and that cutting funds “that contribute to the health and well-being of communities … wouldn’t make our communities safer” nor would it begin to repair the nation’s broken immigration system.
“We urge [Congress] to be mindful of the current state of the law and the needs of local law enforcement while considering a legislative response that will ensure a path to public safety is achieved,” the letter concluded.
So far, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has reviewed new 287(g) applications from six law enforcement departments in February, The Guardian reported. The agency expects to review eight to 10 more in March.