Sheriff Villanueva: Trump's plan to deploy Border Patrol in sanctuary cities is 'unnecessary, needless and overkill'

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva says President Donald Trump's plan to send elite border patrol agents into "sanctuary cities" is "unnecessary, needless and overkill."

Villanueva appeared in the Eyewitness News studio to discuss immigration enforcement and other issues facing his department.

The sheriff also released an official statement on Trump's plan.

The Trump administration decided it will deploy the elite forces, described as the Border Patrol's equivalent of SWAT officers, in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and other cities.

Villanueva noted that federal immigration forces have a legitimate purpose and function, but added that law enforcement officials should follow proper procedures if there is a concern about a dangerous individual within the community and an investigation is necessary.

"They need to get their warrant, first of all, assigned by a judge. Then if the criteria is there and they need that SWAT force for that, well by all means," Villanueva said.

Villanueva pointed out that warrants are for specific purposes, not for "saturating communities and instilling fear into the undocumented population," which he said causes those individuals to fall deeper into the shadows.

"It's weaponizing immigration laws for political purposes," Villanueva said.

The sheriff said there are existing laws to keep the community safe from members of drug cartels seeking residency in Los Angeles who are known to be offenders of immigration law.

"The enforcement tools are already there, they just need to be used appropriately," Villanueva said.

In the interview, the sheriff also discussed Measure R, a ballot measure that would grant the Los Angeles County Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission power to subpoena witnesses and documents relevant to a citizen's or inmate's complaints.

Villanueva is against the measure because it would overturn confidentiality laws that protect certain information from being public.

He said the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is already planning to place much of its information online in a massive transparency project.

"Every single thing that is not bound by law is going to be online," he said of the current project.

According to Villanueva, if the measure is passed, three categories that are bound by confidentiality laws may become more accessible to the public. Those categories include: ongoing criminal administrative investigations, personnel records and witness and victim information on certain cases like sexual assault crimes.

Villanueva also confirmed that the LASD has secured $32.7 million in funds to supplement officers with body cams.

"We'll see it deployed, hopefully this summer," said Villanueva.

According to Villanueva, this is a tool the Sheriff's Department has aimed to fund for a long time and deputies are looking forward to finally having funds secured.
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