Showing that he intends to follow through with his campaign promise to restrict entry into the U.S. and deport undocumented immigrants, President Trump signed an executive order demanding law enforcement officials follow immigrantion laws. In adhering to these federal statutes, police officers would be responsible for jailing undocumented individuals so that they may be deported. Cities or counties that fail to obey this order would lose access to federal funds.
In the past, when local law enforcement officers were asked to support immigrantion officials, their participation was offered on a voluntary basis. According to the guidelines of this order, such cooperation is mandatory. Those within the immigrant community are alarmed by this order because it hastens the deportation process and may allow agents to remove immigrants from the country before legal proceedings have been completed.
In areas known as “sanctuary cities,” police officers have not detained individuals based on suspicion of their status as citizens. Many officers resist the federal intervention because they believe working with ICE will undermine their relationship with undocumented individuals. Enforcing this order could harm relationships that are already difficult to establish between officers and immigrants. Such a fear of officers could limit the effectiveness of the police force to prevent and solve crimes. It will also shift the attention of officers away from law enforcement and move it to detainment.
This concern was echoed by Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck who shared this perspective with reporters: “We have built relationships by effective law enforcement that doesn’t focus on where a person was born or the color of their skin. And we don’t intend to chance that.” Beck’s opinion was shared by mayors of major cities who condemned the order and vowed to challenge its legitimacy in court.
Many large cities have an established history of rejecting federal attempts to detain undocumented immigrants. According to the Washington Post, mayors of sanctuary cities require that their officers not inquire about immigrant status, provide government identification cards to the undocumented and may have interpreters on staff to aid undocumented immigrants. Leaders speaking out against the order have said that the penalty of lost funding is minimal compared to the harm following the order will inflict on the immigrant community.