Attorney General Becerra: New Multi-State Report Highlights How Focusing Local Law Enforcement Resources On Combatting Serious Crimes Rather Than Federal Immigration Enhances Public Safety

Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SACRAMENTO – Attorney General Xavier Becerra, in collaboration with the Attorneys General of New York, the District of Columbia, Rhode Island, Oregon, and Washington, today released a new report that refutes the Trump Administration's claims on so-called “sanctuary” policies. The “Setting The Record Straight On Local Involvement In Federal Civil Immigration Enforcement: The Facts And The Laws” report outlines how the experience of many local law enforcement agencies has led them to conclude that public safety is better served by focusing their time and resources on combatting dangerous criminals rather than on immigration enforcement.

“Public safety is our number one priority. In California, we know that establishing trust between our immigrant communities and local law enforcement improves public safety for everyone,” said Attorney General Becerra. “This is about maintaining trust and cooperation between police and the communities they serve. People should feel confident to come forward to report crimes or participate in policing efforts without fear of deportation, losing their jobs, or being separated from their families. This report provides the facts to counter the Trump Administration’s fear-mongering and outright falsehoods about our state’s public safety policies.”

Four hundred jurisdictions nationwide have laws or policies that protect local law enforcement resources from becoming entangled in federal immigration enforcement. This leads to greater community cooperation with the criminal justice system. California sees this first hand:

  • Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck explained that “when you create a shadow population . . . that fears any interaction [with law enforcement], then you create a whole population of victims, because they become prey for human predators who extort them or abuse them because they know they won’t contact the police.”
  • Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith offered a concrete example of the issue. Farmworkers came forward to provide information during a high profile 2012 investigation of the murder of a teenage girl who disappeared on her way to school. “Had they feared that my office would question their immigration status, or the status of their loved ones, it is very unlikely they would have come forward.”
  • The Chief of Police for the City of Richmond observed that “community safety is a responsibility for everyone, and not just a job for the police. This requires active, engaged, and empowered neighborhood residents who freely interact with police without reservations.”

The report also includes specific cases in California that demonstrate that the cooperation of immigrant victims and witnesses have been crucial to numerous arrests and successful prosecutions. Such cooperation becomes less likely when immigrants have reason to fear working with police and prosecutors, or are afraid to appear in court to testify.

A copy of the multi-state report is attached to the electronic version of this release at oag.ca.gov/news

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