Thursday, November 20, 2003

LAPD resists clamor to revisit department's "don't ask" immigration stance

"In this era of heightened concern over foreign terrorists on U.S. soil, a clamor is growing among some in Los Angeles -- including ... a group of San Fernando Valley activists and Northwest Valley Councilman Greig Smith -- for the Los Angeles Police Department to revisit its nearly 25-year-old policy of not dealing with immigration violations."

"In response to reports that LAPD officers were routinely singling out immigrants for scrutiny, then-Police Chief Daryl Gates ordered officers to stop asking suspects, witnesses and victims about their immigration status. The policy, known as Special Order 40, has remained in effect for two decades."

"Current Police Chief William Bratton and members of the city's Police Commission have not called for the policy to be amended or repealed."

"'There are safety mechanisms in place for deporting people who are criminally inclined,' said Police Commission President David S. Cunningham III. 'In the end, the policy position on Special Order 40 is that we are a nation of immigrants and we don't want to dissuade them from having contact with the police.'"

"Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Virginia Kice said Special Order 40 doesn't preclude federal immigration authorities from working with the LAPD on terrorism and violent-crime cases."

"'While the LAPD is not in the business of referring routine criminals to federal immigration authorities, the city and federal authorities work closely on cases involving potential terrorists in the country illegally, Kice said.'"

"U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers stationed in the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Twin Towers Correctional Facility check the immigration status of inmates and decide whether to deport them when their term is finished, jail Lt. Tim Murphy said."

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