LA mayor, police chief air concerns over sanctuary cities with Homeland Security chief

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Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is in Washington, D.C., this week, said he and other mayors spoke to U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly Wednesday about the responsibilities of cities to follow the United States Constitution when dealing with immigrants who are in the country illegally.

“One of the things we wanted to underscore with Secretary Kelly this morning was (that) upholding the Constitution means abiding by the decisions the courts have put forward,” Garcetti said after the meeting, during remarks at a House Democrats-led forum on President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

The court decisions limit the ability of local law enforcement to keep immigrants in their custody longer than the usual 48 hours, and cities can be put at risk of breaking the law, Garcetti said.

“Asking us to detain people more than what the Constitution allows, would be us breaking the (laws of the) Constitution, and we will not do that,” Garcetti said. “We will not change that, and our values are not for sale.”

Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck has also called detainer requests without court-issued warrants are “illegal.”

RELATED STORY: LA mayor vows to fight Trump administration attempt to strip ‘sanctuary city’ funding

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier this week criticized law enforcement agencies in so-called “sanctuary cities” and other jurisdictions for being unwilling to honor detainer requests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to keep people in custody beyond the usual window, and said that cities that prohibit local law enforcement officials from sharing information with immigration officials could lose out on federal grants from the Department of Justice.

Under a Trump administration order, ICE was also directed to put out a weekly report identifying “uncooperative” jurisdictions and listing jails and facilities around the country that have declined federal detainer requests.

Beck was also part of this morning’s meeting with Kelly, which was organized by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and also included the Boston police chief, and the mayors of Oklahoma, New Orleans and Dallas.

This is the “first conversation” the delegation of mayors and police chiefs has had in person with Kelly, who reports directly to President Donald Trump, according to Garcetti spokesman George Kivork.


Their aim was on “opening a line of communication with this administration, with the Department of Homeland Security,” Kivork said.

RELATED STORY: ICE puts LA jails on ‘non-cooperative’ list for refusing to hold immigrants

During the meeting, Kelly seemed especially interested in emphasizing that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, who work under DHS, do not conduct “sweeps” or “checkpoints” – methods that cast a wider net on large groups of immigrants at particular locations – but rather are targeting “specific individuals,” according to Kivork.

Kivork reported that Kelly said ICE does not go to schools, churches or medical facilities when conducting their enforcement actions.

Kelly also spent some time sharing his biography with the mayors, and discussed how he came to be part of the Trump administration, Kivork said.

Garcetti stayed for the first 15 minutes of the meeting, Kivork said.

During his statements at the immigration forum, Garcetti suggested that DHS “do what we do” in Los Angeles, where the LAPD processes between 30,000 to 50,000 “probable cause requests” with the court annually.

“It’s not a difficult process,” Garcetti said. “The judge is working 24 hours, sometimes in pajamas at home” to issue the warrants needed to keep people in custody longer.

RELATED STORY: ‘It’s not our job’: LAPD won’t enforce federal immigration laws, chief says

Garcetti also noted that he has written a letter to Kelly and ICE requesting that federal agents “stop using the term ‘police’ when they knock on doors, because in my city, people think that means it’s LAPD, when, in fact, it is ICE agents who are showing up, and they might sacrifice their Constitutional rights in the face of that.”

Garcetti and other city leaders do not refer to Los Angeles as a sanctuary, and say that as a matter of routine and policy, their police share information with federal immigration officials about violent criminals.

According to an amicus brief by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution restricts local law enforcement from honoring ICE’s detainer requests if there is no court-issued warrant.

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