Police Chief Charlie Beck. Photo by MyNewsLA.com.

 

Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck is backing a so-called “Sanctuary State” proposed law for California that would prevent local and state law enforcement agencies from enforcing federal immigration laws.

“(The bill) is absolutely consistent with the values of the Los Angeles Police Department,” Beck told a Los Angeles news conference endorsing the measure.

SB 54 “is not a soft on crime bill” or “an anti-law enforcement bill,” Beck said.

“This is a bill that displays courage — the courage of Californians, the courage of Angelenos to understand that when we stand together we are much more effective than when we stand apart,” Beck said.

While the police chief backed the measure, local law enforcement was not unanimous in supporting the idea. Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell has already gone on record in opposition.

But McDonnell was not present when Beck endorsed Senate Bill 54 during a news conference with former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles at the Ronald Reagan State Office Building in downtown Los Angeles Monday.

Holder and his law firm were temporarily hired by the Legislature as consultants in California’s legal battle with the Trump administration.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order that threatened to cut off federal funding to states or cities that limit their cooperation with federal agents over immigration, although it was struck down by a federal judge in April.

Beck mentioned Special Order 40 during his remarks, which was enacted in 1979 and prohibits LAPD officers from initiating police contact for the sole purpose of determining an individual’s immigration status.

McDonnell announced his opposition to the bill in March.

“SB 54 prohibits my agency from responding to federal requests for notification when one of my jail facilities houses someone charged with a crime who might be the subject of an immigration enforcement action,” McDonnell wrote.

“State law, the TRUST Act, already governs when and how a local entity may detain a person subject to an immigration hold. The TRUST Act is sufficient and was passed in order to prevent the unlawful over detention of those subjects of immigrations enforcement action.

“Currently, when an inmate being released is subject to an immigration enforcement action, they are apprehended by agents in a safe and controlled manner during the release process at a county jail. SB 54 would not allow the safe transfer of custody, rather it would force immigration enforcement agents into our communities in order to search out and find the person they seek.

“While doing this, they will most surely cast a wide net over our communities apprehending and detaining those not originally the target of the enforcement actions. The result of this will be complete and total loss of trust and cooperation with any law enforcement agency,” McDonnell wrote.

While SB 54 would allow a sheriff to notify the FBI when an inmate with past violent felony convictions serving a sentence for a misdemeanor is about to be released, McDonnell objected to its definition of a violent felony.

“SB 54 does not seem to acknowledge the following crimes as violent, but, I certainly do — assault with a deadly weapon, shooting at an occupied dwelling, shooting at an occupied building, shooting at an occupied vehicle, or shooting at an occupied aircraft, rape where the victim is unconscious of the act, rape by intoxicating substance, residential burglary, assault with a deadly weapon by a state prison inmate, or exploding a destructive device or explosive with the intent to injure, just to name a few,” McDonnell said.

“I think we can agree these crimes and many more are extremely violent felonies.”

The bill is also opposed by the California State Sheriff’s Association over concerns it would impact public safety and put dangerous people back on the street.

“(The bill) is absolutely consistent with the values of the Los Angeles Police Department,” Beck said.

SB 54 “is not a soft on crime bill” or “an anti-law enforcement bill,” Beck said.

“This is a bill that displays courage — the courage of Californians, the courage of Angelenos to understand that when we stand together we are much more effective than when we stand apart,” Beck said.

Holder was hired by the Legislature in January to serve as outside counsel and advise it on the state’s potential conflicts with the federal government. Holder said the bill was constitutional.

“California is doing the right thing,” Holder said. “This is something that needs to be done.”

— Staff and wire reports

 

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