As the Los Angeles La Raza movement prepares a mass protest over Arizona’s new immigration control law, the city’s police chief assures illegal immigrants who plan to march that his department’s official policy forbids asking residents for documentation.
In an apparent effort to encourage illegal aliens to join this weekend’s demonstration—expected to draw up to 100,000 people to the downtown area—Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck has publicly guaranteed illegal immigrants that they are safe from deportation in his city.
The chief actually went out of his way, according to a local news report, to reassure illegal aliens that a decades-old policy (Special Order 40) preventing officers from asking suspects about immigration status is strictly enforced. The new Arizona law, which allows local police to verify legal status, will not affect the City of Angels, the chief confirmed.
“Because of the ongoing issues in Arizona, I wanted to make something perfectly clear,” Beck said at a press conference this week. “Special Order 40 is the mandate of this department. …That is how I will police this city as long as I am the chief of police.” The chief and his mayor, Chicano activist Antonio Villaraigosa, have denounced Arizona’s measure as “unpatriotic” and “unconstitutional.”
A few years ago Judicial Watch filed a taxpayer lawsuit to end Special Order 40 because it clearly violates federal immigration law, which gives every police officer the discretion to communicate with federal authorities about an individual’s immigration status. An L.A. County court ruled that the lawsuit could not proceed to trial and an appellate court upheld the decision. Judicial Watch has filed a petition for review with the California Supreme Court.
Many police departments across the country—including Chicago, Houston and Phoenix—have similar policies preventing officers from verifying the immigration status of suspects. Arizona’s new law (SB1070) allows local police statewide to enforce immigration laws, makes it a state crime to be in the U.S. without proper documentation and punishes anyone seeking work from a road or sidewalk.