Jan 30, 2017 by

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck just told the LA Times that his department will not be complying with President Trump’s orders to assist the federal government in rounding up and deporting undocumented immigrants.

“We couldn’t deport 500,000 people if we wanted to, and if we did, it would be at the expense of public safety…” Beck said of the LAPD’s resources. “This is not our job, nor will I make it our job.”

Los Angeles has approximately 500,000 undocumented residents. Beck said in his experience, criminalizing these residents only makes for a more dangerous community.

“When you create a shadow population … that fears any interaction (with police),” Beck said, “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.”

Donald Trump’s campaign famously began with an anti-immigration speech, in which he called Mexican immigrants “rapists.” In addition to planning for mass deportations, the Trump administration has announced plans for a weekly registry that tracks “criminal actions committed by aliens.”

Despite these policies which largely seek to demonize immigrant communities, criminologists largely agree that undocumented immigrants tend to commit less crime than natural-born citizens.

During Beck’s tenure as LA police chief, he has championed providing provisional driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, arguing that the roads will be more secure if all drivers were regulated. He estimates that his force is approx. 47% Latino. Other city leaders have also pledged to risk their federal funding to defy Trump’s immigration plans in San Francisco, Chicago, and New York.

Beck said that a more effective way to curb immigration would involve being a better ally to Mexico and its struggling economy.

“We have a very rich country with a lot of opportunity that is immediately adjacent to a poorer country with less opportunity,” Beck said.

Despite all his practical reasons for resisting Trump’s orders, Beck cited his moral code as the core reason for his willingness to potentially lose millions in federal funding on behalf of undocumented immigrants.

“I’d risk losing my beliefs,” by complying, Beck said. “There’s not a price for me to do this differently.”

Nathan Wellman is a Los Angeles-based journalist, author, and playwright. Follow him on Twitter: @LightningWOW

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