Immigration Law Enforcement

63 Law Enforcement Leaders Express Concerns About Immigration Enforcement in Letter to Congress

Celeste Fremon
Written by Celeste Fremon

This week a group of 63 law enforcement leaders from all over the nation, including five from California, and many from states President Donald Trump won last November, sent a letter to senators explaining why involving local police and sheriff’s departments in immigration enforcement is damaging to public safety and to important police and community relationships.

The list of current and former local police chiefs, sheriffs, and other high ranking law enforcement officers urge what they call a constructive immigration enforcement approach that “prioritizes criminals and not peaceful residents,” an approach the writers say is vital to preserving community safety.

In addition, the same group released a policy paper this week—“A Path to Public Safety: The Legal Questions around Immigration Detainers,”—which addresses legal limitations on immigration detainers that steer cities and counties away from holding people for an extended period of time voluntarily.

The joint letter to Congress doesn’t name the president directly, but the group of signatories talk with high concern about the deleterious effect of the president’s new push to have local law enforcement involved in arresting undocumented residents for deportment.

“The success of our community policing efforts depends heavily on providing all of our residents access, inclusivity and trust-based relationships with the men and women who are charged to serve and protect our community,” said Randy Gaber, Assistant Chief of Police of the Madison Police Department in Wisconsin. “When this trust is eroded by the fear of detainment and deportation for status and low-level offenses, the safety and security of our community is at risk.”

Mark Prosser, Public Safety Director of Storm Lake, Iowa, expressed similar worry. “In recent weeks, I’ve constantly had to address the fear that is spreading through our immigrant population inclusive of documented, refugee and undocumented community members related to proposed policies, rumors and safety concerns for themselves, their families and friends,” said Prosser. “This climate has already begun to erode the relationships and community building that our department has worked on in an attempt to enhance and perfect our community policing processes.”

The letter also comments on the potentially destructive effect of the administration’s threats to withdraw funding from those jurisdictions that don’t agree to become de facto arms of ICE.

“Threatening the removal of valuable grant funding from jurisdictions that choose not to spend limited resources enforcing federal immigration law is extremely problematic,” write the chiefs and sheriffs. “Removing these funds that contribute to the health and well-being of communities across the nation would not make our communities safer and would not fix any part of our broken immigration system.”

The letter was released to coincide with a hearing by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on border policies and interior enforcement.


Meanwhile, in Sacramento, California lawmakers are moving to block immigration agents from being able to access student data. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman Lopez has the story.

20 Comments

  • WOW!!! To try and rationalize and abdicate your responsibility to enforce the laws of the land by arguing it’s not in my “job description” is weak and these officials should be “ashamed”. Just because your local department does not “officially” enforce federal laws, codes and regulations, does not mean you can (or should) look the other way and say “that’s not my responsibility” when you see any crime a foot. This would not only set a bad precedent for lack of inter-agency cooperation, but put everyone at risk…..and not only as it relates to immigration issues.

    We are a country of laws and are the United States of America. This fact has made this country strong since the beginning and allowed us to weather many wars, and remain strong and united. Why does everyone want to come to this country? Not because they want the same division, tyranny, poverty and repression they are fleeing, but because they want the real structures of democracy, freedoms, equal protection and rule of law Americans have fought hard for.

    I wish Los Angeles’ top cops would have had the same passion and pushback towards the DOJ and ACLU when all the mandates, dictates and provisions came down on the jails. Hmmmm….

  • Isn’t the whole LASD Pandora’s box case built around local government impeding a federal investigation? Has it not been established that federal law enforcement is supreme to state and local law enforcement in all matters? When can we expect to see some uncooperative law enforcement leaders ,not to mention California lawmakers, dragged into Judge Percy’s court and procecuted for obstruction of justice?

  • Of course they had to send the letter to Congress. Why would it go to the Attorney General when Jeff Sessions has alzhiemers.

  • @Conspiracy & Nicobar – You state, “We are a country of laws and are the United States of America. This fact has made this country strong since the beginning and allowed us to weather many wars..” Since the beginning of what? Does this include the 200+ years of slavery. United? There was a freakin’ civil war because of it. Up until 50 years ago you still had laws keeps blacks behind the bus, and gays in the closet. Are you reading the same history book as our great Orange president? No doubt you want to make America great and go back to those good ‘ole days you reminisce so much about.

    But, you are correct – the law is the law and it should be enforced. I am glad there were people like you to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act back in the 1850s to get them shifty runaway Negros back to their rightful owners. I am glad there were people like you back in the 1940s to enforce Executive Order 9066 and put them chinks in their place out in camps. (They were actually Japs, but, as we saw from the recent shooting of I-ranians, some of our redneck brethren can’t tell the difference). I am sure glad there were people like you back in Alabama, the home state of our Russian attorney general, to keep them coloreds in the back of the bus. You are right, the law is the law. How about you start by arresting that cowboy that grabbed a 13-year old kid and fired his gun.

    Good bye. Or, so that you understand, Auf Wiedersehen.

  • Local law enforcement has no business enforcing immigration law then the Feds have enforcing local law. To argue a blurring of this distinction is pure idiocy and puts us all at risk…

  • LATBG it has nothing to do with the blurring of lines. It’s a top down system and the Feds are at the top. Local law enforcement must do what it’s told ,anything else can be construed as obstruction. Have you not been paying attention to the Pandora’s box case? Whether the Feds are demanding you to produce an inmate or an illegal alien, failing to do so is obstructing them in their duties. Whether they decide to prosecute or not is obviously a political decision.

    • Nicobar,

      You’re seriously mistaken in your understanding of the relationship of federal and state laws, and law enforcement.

      I would encourage you to take a gander at the Constitution, and in particular to the “Supremacy Clause” and to the Tenth Amendment. The supremacy clause is quite expansive and it does make the federal law supreme in most, but not all, areas. The key is that for a federal law to be supreme to a state law (or the respective law enforcement agencies), the law must apply a power granted to the federal government by the Constitution. In all other matters, the Tenth Amendment governs, and the state law is supreme.

      You’re dead wrong in your assertion that “Local law enforcement must do what it’s told.” That viewpoint was specifically tested in the U.S. Supreme Court case of Printz v United States and the court held otherwise. The case involved a county sheriff who did not wish to carry out background checks mandated by federal law. The Supreme Court held that local law enforcement officials could not be required to carry out federal mandates.

      I would also encourage you to check out the Ninth Circuit’s en banc decision in Idaho v Horiuchi where the court held that a federal agent was not immune from state law in the performance of a federal duty.

      At the same time, there is no right of local law enforcement to interfere (as apposed to not supporting) federal officials in the performance of federal duties.

        • Actually, no. You quite incorrectly maintained that “Has it not been established that federal law enforcement is supreme to state and local law enforcement in all matters” (quoted from your first posting) and that’s what I took exception to.

          The simple fact is that it has not been so established as the Printz case makes clear.

          The issue of state law vs. federal law is separate and distinct from the issue of interference with federal authorities.

  • CF: I heard you had immigrated to Venezuela…..and put in charge of the Ministry of Propaganda….say hi to Che for me……oh…forgot…..his buddy Fidel iced him back in the day. No love among socialists!

  • I’m glad we’re on the same page in United States American history with respect to the US Federal Government government having to take an active roll in up holding the US Constitution and preserving the rights of others. The Civil War and Civil Rights movement would not have succeeded without a strong Federal Governnent upholding the laws of the land, keeping the country united and fighting for the rights of the oppressed.

  • @Bandwagon – No, but close. Im still here in the great US of A, and although not Minister of Propaganda, I am Minister of Redneck Reeducation. In between donuts, you may want to pick up a book. And, no, not one of those Killing This or That books by Bill O’Riley, but something that has little numbers (also known as footnotes) so that you can verify some of the information.

    @Conspiracy – Those history courses at Trump University appear not to have covered much material. The Fugitive Slave Act was an act of congress (That’s part of the Federal Government) and the Japanese internment was a result of an Executive Order (Those come from the President (the President is also part of the federal government)) And, the civil war was not the Federal Government trying to liberate the slaves. Our country bumpkin brethren from the South jumped the gun and seceded. In fact, the Emancipation Proclamation came after the commencement of the war and only freed slaves in the rebellious states, not even in states that had slavery that remained in the Union. The civil rights movement would not have succeeded, not because of the Federal Government, but because of black people refusing to take shit from white people, refusing to move from the counter, refusing to go to the back of the bus, and demanding what should be theirs, filing suits in court, an so on. And, I can’t forget some of the more enlighten whites, mostly Jews, who also stood up.

    Regardless, deport as many as you can. Enjoy the next 4 years.

  • It’s nice to manipulate facts to try and support a convoluted argument. Everything you spew is full of contempt for the US, which I doubt you currently live in…. or perhaps it’s because you are a person who did in fact enter this country illegally. I’m sure at the anarchist university you attended (???) and were mis- educated at, you were led to believe by whinning, crying fowl and throwing out some tid bits of history you could wow the members of the debate club. However, I’m not impressed. So keep on flapping your trap and dropping insults which is befitting the little person that you are.

    By the way…Brown vs. The Board of Education, The Voting Rights Act, EPA, FDA, Social Security, Civil Rights Act, Veterans Administration and the American with Disabilities Act are few more Federal interventions if you need more examples.

  • A few federal indictments from among “the list of current and former local police chiefs, sheriffs, and other high ranking law enforcement officers” of unofficial “sanctuary” jurisdictions for harboring illegal aliens (8 USC 1324), obstruction of justice (18 USC 1510), and conspiracy to obstruct justice (18 USC 371) should be sufficient to adjust their, and other defiant and recalcitrant police chief’s and sheriff’s attitudes concerning enforcement of federal immigration laws and cooperation with federal immigration officers. They may or may not be concerned about the loss of federal funding to their jurisdictions, but I doubt that even one of them would be willing to be indicted, convicted and serve time in a federal penitentiary to protect illegal aliens from enforcement actions by federal immigration officers. If these police chiefs and sheriffs have any doubts about the ability and willingness of federal authorities to investigate, charge, and try local law enforcement officials on federal charges, they need only to contact former LA County Sheriff and Under Sheriff Leroy Baca and Paul Tanaka.

  • One has to admit that getting 63 Law Enforcement leaders to write letters to the President is impressive. BUT, when you consider there are approximately 18,000 Law Enforcement agencies in the USA, maybe, just maybe these “leaders” might not be representative of their peers.

    Just say’n.

    • Long Gone…..We’re talking “Big Dog” Agencies, not your typical Mayberry RFD’S or West Podunk P.D. ……just so you know

  • Big Dogs? You mean like San Francisco, Baltimore, LA, Chicago? (How ARE things going in those cities?) Where the Chief is a politician being run by other politician’s, who happen to be Big Dog Dems? Oh, now I get it – the other 17,900 Mayberry Chief’s don’t understand the bottom line of just being cops trying to do their cop-jobs. They need the Big City “experts” to lead the way.

    Rather sounds like the election in November, doesn’t it?

    BTW, don’t look now but the California Sheriff’s Association just voiced their disapproval of the Swamp dwellers in Sacramento trying to pass legislation mandating that they NOT cooperate with the Feds (SB84). I assume the Big Dogs barked but the little dogs had their day and the Podunk’s got their chance to object.

  • CF, you and your White hating pals are no better than any Klan member or Panther parading around these days spewing their racial bs. You’re a simple minded racist as low as they come omitting facts from history that don’t fit your agenda of bigotry and hate. You’re a know nothing troll that probably got dumped by some fine looking Latina when you were young for some good looking young cop, a White one for sure, who treated her like a gentleman does and that still eats at you till today. Get over it hater, she got a better deal like every other one that never called you back. Oh, what’s the guy look like who was phoning in all those terrorists threats to the Jewish schools and centers recently because a girl dumped him, kind of like what obviously happened to you. Was that a “Redneck?”

  • Surefire:. Not to worry…I think CF is actually some old white guy sitting in front of his computer in his boxer shorts….Probably doesn’t even speak Spanish…..Most likely a Democrat….

  • Oh CF, I love a good donut but a good rib eye and wedge salad is even better. In fact I’ll be in the L.A. you don’t hang in later tonight eating just that.

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