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Garcetti Signs Executive Directive Expanding Protections For Undocumented Angelenos

Mayor Eric Garcetti signs Executive Directive No. 20 on Tuesday in Lincoln Heights. (Photo by Julia Wick/LAist)
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On Tuesday, Mayor Eric Garcetti signed an executive directive barring police and city employees from enforcing federal immigration laws. The executive directive also bars city employees from granting immigration agents access to any city facility that isn't expressly open to the general public, and ensures equal access to city services for all Angelenos, regardless of immigration status.

"Today, hardworking, law-abiding immigrants are fearful for their safety and anxious about being targeted and having their families torn apart, and we understand why," Garcetti said at a press conference announcing the directive on Tuesday. "Under this new administration, we are all seeing policies, executive orders and rhetoric that are divisive, mean-spirited and often unconstitutional. And we see this impact all across our city," the mayor said, adding that the Lincoln Heights youth center where the press conference was held had itself seen a 34% drop in enrollment so far that year. "We have a lot of people voting with their feet not to participate in ordinary things," Garcetti said of the climate of fear.

Garcetti was joined at the press conference by LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, who said that his department has seen a marked decrease in crime reporting by the Latino community since the start of the year, amid fears of increased immigration enforcement. Garcetti and other city leaders have also strongly criticized ICE's policy of identifying themselves as police officers, which city officials say erodes community trust in local police (it is technically legal for ICE agents to do so).

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"The LAPD has never participated in programs that deputize officers to act as immigration agents, and under my watch, they never will," Garcetti said.

LAPD officers have been prohibited from enforcing federal immigration laws or acting on an individual's immigration status since 1979, when a policy called Special Order 40 was put in place. Since 2014, the LAPD has not honored Immigrations and Customs Enforcement requests (so-called ICE detainers) to hold individuals who would otherwise be eligible for release unless there is a judicial warrant.

Today's executive directive extends the policies and procedures originated from Special Order 40, along with the LAPD's policy not to honor ICE detainers without a warrant, to the airport police, harbor police and Los Angeles Fire Department.

"My most solemn responsibility as mayor is to keep all of our city's people safe, and I strongly support the police department's longstanding policies with respect to immigration enforcement, which are rooted in the principle that all of Los Angeles is safer when the police department maintains a relationship of trust, respect, and cooperation with all city residents," Garcetti said in the directive. "When people feel confident that they can come forward as a victim of or witness to a crime, irrespective of immigration status, the police department's ability to protect and serve all is enhanced."

Jennie Pasquarella, director of immigrants' rights for the ACLU of California, told LAist that the directive was a positive step for the city. "It's great to see city leaders taking steps to protect our communities and to address the fear that is real. It's really important that we ensure that everyone in our community, regardless of immigration status, feels completely safe and is able to access city services," Pasquarella said.

"The city of Los Angeles doesn't ask questions about where you come from or what language you speak or how you worship God, it is in our power to keep everyone safe," Garcetti said.