PRESIDENT-ELECT DONALD TRUMP’S reaffirmation of his campaign trail vow to immediately deport 2 million to 3 million undocumented immigrants has roiled communities across the country. Local leaders have attempted to calm their constituents, with authorities in California offering particularly strident opposition. California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De León called Trump’s plan “catastrophic” and vowed that the state would “aggressively avail ourselves of any and all tools” to protect the rights of undocumented residents.
Remarks by Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck about his agency not cooperating with any new deportation push garnered the highest praise from the national press and immigrants’ rights advocates.
“We are not going to work in conjunction with Homeland Security on deportation efforts. That is not our job, nor will I make it our job,” Beck said on November 14.
The reality of street policing in California is quite different. Police and sheriffs in California — including the LAPD — and across the country have been routinely cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement for years to deport people accused of gang ties. Joint federal-local gang task forces targeting transnational gangs such as Mara Salvatrucha and 18th Street were formed during George W. Bush’s presidency as part of Operation Community Shield, and they have continued to operate through Barack Obama’s two terms. Today, the deportation of people accused of gang membership or association is strongly emphasized under the Obama administration’s Priority Enforcement Program, which focuses on identifying and deporting undocumented immigrants with criminal records.