“I don’t intend on doing anything different.”
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There are over 3 million undocumented immigrants in the state of California alone, according to the Migration Policy Institute. Over 1 million of them live in Los Angeles County. This menagerie of humans is vast, representing a kaleidoscope of languages, foods, music, dress, and labor. They are human beings. Flesh and bone who have come to America seeking the opportunity to create a better life. They are, under the tacit endorsement of Donald Trump and his cabinet, scourges to be purged from the American consciousness. But, we know better. And thankfully the Los Angeles police do too.
In response to President-elect Donald Trump’s assertion that he’s going to level the undocumented community, LAPD Chief of Police Charlie Beck has doubled down on the department’s long-standing stance to stay out of federal immigration dustups.
Historically, the LAPD strictly prohibits officers from approaching a person solely to determine their immigration status, as reported by theLos Angeles Times. The department has had this mandate since 1979, when then Chief of Police Daryl Gates drew a line in the sand on how officers would treat the public. And, in a statement, Beck made it clear he planned to continue the practice, saying,
“I don’t intend on doing anything different. We are not going to engage in law enforcement activities solely based on somebody’s immigration status. We are not going to work in conjunction with Homeland Security on deportation efforts. That is not our job, nor will I make it our job.”
There are a few myths trotted out during election cycles to stir up the electorate. None seem as effective as those surrounding undocumented immigrants. The sentiment is that they soak up precious resources and don’t put nearly as much back into the pot. Nothing could be further from the truth. Undocumented peoples account for billions of dollars in taxes in the United States, as documented by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, despite having a legal status that stops them from joining the real-wage economy.
These straw men end up devaluing not only the immigrant, but the wider society as well. The Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration determined that finding effective ways of allowing undocumented people to enter mainstream society would be a boost to California’s coffers to the tune of $16 billion dollars. With as much as 3.5 percent of the entire U.S. population now undocumented, imagine what that could do for the tax base of counties and states across the country?