Civil rights groups demand immigration agents stop impersonating police officers
ACLU SoCal Communications & Media Advocacy, (213) 977-5252, firstname.lastname@example.org
February 23, 2017
LOS ANGELES - The ACLU Foundation of Southern California and a
coalition of advocacy groups today sent a letter to Los Angeles Police
Department Chief Charlie Beck, Mayor Eric Garcetti and city council
members, demanding that they take steps to prevent Immigration and
Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers from impersonating police officers
to gain access to homes and businesses in Los Angeles.
The deception critically endangers LAPD policies that seek to assure
immigrant community members they can report crimes and assist police
investigations without fear of deportation. These policies have been
vital in furthering public safety.
ICE permits its agents to misrepresent themselves as police officers,
probation officers, religious workers and other officials to gain
community members’ permission to enter homes without warrants. The
ruse has also been used to get individuals to volunteer information
they might not otherwise divulge.
"ICE’s impersonations exploit the trust that LAPD has sought to build
with immigrant community members," said Michael Kaufman, Sullivan &
Cromwell Access to Justice Staff Attorney at the ACLU of Southern
California. "It is critical that city leaders take a stand against
ICE’s deceptive practices, particularly in light of the Trump
administration’s intent to build a mass deportation dragnet."
The letter, which provides accounts of several incidents of the
deceptive practice, explains that immigrant community members may be
more reticent to cooperate with LAPD officers in the future because
they will have no way to discern whether officers who say they are
"police" are LAPD or ICE.
The ruse undermines Special Order 40, a long-standing LAPD policy of
not taking actions to identify an individual's immigration status. The
policy seeks to assure community members that their cooperation with
police investigations will not lead to their deportations.
In the past ICE has recognized that its impersonation tactics can harm
the groups they pretend to represent. ICE's stated policy is to obtain
the permission "of an executive [of the law enforcement agency] with
the authority to grant permission for the impersonation."
The letter issued today strongly urges that permission be denied. It
calls upon the LAPD to expressly refuse ICE the right to impersonate
police officers. Furthermore, it demands that ICE agents wear uniforms
with clear agency identification when carrying out actions in Los
The letter also calls for a meeting to educate community members on
how to identify legitimate LAPD officers.
In addition to the ACLU SoCal, the letter was signed by Asian
Americans Advancing Justice—Los Angeles; CARECEN-LA; The Center for
Popular Democracy; Immigrant Defenders Law Center; Korean American
Coalition; LAANE; Loyola Immigrant Justice Clinic; National Day Labor
Organizing Network; National Immigration Law Center; National Lawyers
Guild—Los Angeles; Public Counsel; Restaurant Opportunities Center of
Los Angeles; SEIU-UHW; UFCW Local 770; United Union of Roofers,
Waterproofers & Allied Workers, Local 36.