LAPD Chief Beck seeks to reassure undocumented immigrants

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Friday, February 24, 2017
LAPD Chief Beck seeks to reassure undocumented immigrants
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck is seeking to reassure undocumented immigrants who have increased fear of deportation.

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck is seeking to reassure undocumented immigrants who have increased fear of deportation following President Donald Trump's expanded immigration enforcement plans.

For years, the LAPD has had a policy of not having police officers act as immigration enforcement agents, which the agency believes could make victims of and witnesses to crimes afraid to come forward.

That policy isn't changing, Beck said.

"We have about 500,000 undocumented immigrants in Los Angeles and they are very nervous right now," Beck said.

Many of those undocumented who have made their lives here now fear getting separated from their families under Trump's more aggressive immigration enforcement.

"I've made my life here for more than 20 years, and to know that there's a possibility that I might be separated from my kids is the worse feeling in the world," said Carlos, an undocumented Guatemalan immigrant using an alias.

"That's all you think about. What if I get deported? What if I get separated from my family?" the father of three said.

According to the executive director of the Central American Resource Center, Martha Arevalo, fears such as those experienced by Carlos have forced countless families to put their lives on hold.

"We know that families are afraid to live, to send their children to school, to go to work, because they're scared they may not see them ever again," Arevalo said.

Immigrants have also become increasingly fearful of police.

"Even though police might not turn you into ICE, people are not 100 percent sure of that," Carlos said.

Arevalo pointed to possible negative outcomes stemming from a fearful undocumented immigrant population.

"People that are victims of crimes (and) that are witnesses of crime are not reporting them. That not only affects those people in those communities but it affects us all."

Trump has threatened to withhold federal funding from cities that don't cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

But Beck urged the immigrant community to not be afraid to cooperate with the police.

"Come forward. Your status has nothing to do with your contact with Los Angeles Police Department," Beck said. "We will not give you to ICE, we will not refer you to ICE," Beck said. "To take somebody's liberty away without court order, without probable cause is not the kind of constitutional policing that I'm going to be a part of."

Beck said he still desires to connect with ICE to gain more transparency and clarity concerning its new protocols and procedures.