In no longer heeding federal immigration requests to hold inmates who might be deportable past their jail terms unless a judge has vetted the request, the
Analysts told The Times' Emily Alpert Reyes and Kate Linthicum that the shift could undercut the Obama administration's strategy on immigration enforcement.
Many local law enforcement agencies — including the LAPD — decided to reexamine their practices after a federal court ruled in April that an Oregon county was liable for damages after holding an inmate beyond her release date so she could be transferred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
California Atty. Gen.
In reaction to Monday's announcement by Los Angeles officials,
"When law enforcement agencies turn criminals over to ICE rather than releasing them into the community, it enhances public safety and the safety of law enforcement," ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice said in a written statement.
But at a Monday news conference alongside Los Angeles Mayor
"People ask 'Will this affect crime in Los Angeles?' My answer is no," Beck said. The police chief said crime had continued to fall over the last three years in Los Angeles, even as the Police Department "systematically reduced" the number of detention requests that it honored.
Federal agents check fingerprints of inmates booked by local police to see if they show up in federal immigration databases, then use the information to decide whether to ask police to hold the person for up to 48 hours. The holds are meant to give agents time to take the inmates into custody. So far this year, the LAPD has received 773 such requests and honored roughly 300, Beck said.
"The way it exists right now is, you don't even have to go to a judge," Garcetti added. "It's just an ICE officer who says, 'Hold that person' — period."
Under the new practice, police will honor the requests only if they get a warrant or a "judicial determination of probable cause," the LAPD stated in a news release Monday morning. The new approach is expected to remain in effect until "this area of the law is further clarified by the courts," its statement said.
The National Day Laborer Organizing Network and other immigrant advocacy groups praised L.A. officials for the shift, saying it "moves Los Angeles another step away from the Arizona policies that threaten L.A. families and public safety." The
Meanwhile, Jo Wideman, executive director of Californians for Population Stabilization, which advocates for stricter immigration policy, called the change "ridiculous."