The Los Angeles City Council voted 11-1 yesterday to support state legislation allowing the city to opt out of Department of Homeland Security’s “Secure Communities'” program that requires law enforcement officers to submit fingerprints of arrested people to immigration officials.
In an effort to crackdown on illegal immigration and comply with federal deportation orders, DHS created the program in 2008 in order to cross-check fingerprints of arrestees with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Former Los Angeles police chief, Bernard Parks who is now a LA City Councilman, introduced the motion supporting the state legislation. Parks said the program targeted illegal immigrants convicted of violent crimes but the federal law has gone astray from its original purpose.
“One of the most significant issues of ‘Secure Communities’ is that it impedes victims (from) making crime reports,” Parks said. “That is a 40-year journey in the city of Los Angeles for the LAPD ... finding ways through language skills and also breaking down barriers to allow victims to come in, unimpeded to report crimes.”
Parks went on to say that anti-immigration activists will accuse the city of being a sanctuary city that harbors criminals, “but the large issue for me is that this is a home-rule issue. The city of Los Angeles should set policies as it regards how they conduct business with the community in which they serve.”
LAPD Assistant Chief Michel Moore explained that Los Angeles’ Special Order 40, which prevents police officers from considering immigration status when initiating a police action, has kept the city safe since it was established in 1979 under former LA Police Chief Daryl Gates.
“The perception alone undermines our ability to maintain and build upon trust with these (immigrant) communities, trust that’s vital to our ability to maintain the safety for those communities and all Angelenos,” Moore said.
Other states across the country have already suspended the enforcement of the ‘Secure Communities” program. Some of these states include New York, Massachusetts and Illinois.
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