US police chiefs denounce Donald Trump illegal immigration crackdown in open letter

61 senior police figures say Trump administration is wrong about so-called 'sanctuary' safe haven cities

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The Independent US

An alliance of 61 police chiefs have criticised the enforcement of Donald Trump’s immigration policies and are pleading for a change of tack.

In an open letter, the senior figures explain that if local police perform the “federal government’s” job by enforcing deportations, it will create "harm" in their communities.

Mr Trump has pledged to bring in local police forces to help with deporting millions of undocumented immigrants.

But this latest signal of defiance, which includes police chiefs from loyal Republican-aligned states, presents yet another stumbling block.

“Immigration enforcement is, first and foremost, a federal responsibility,” reads the letter, obtained by The Guardian.

“We believe that state and local law enforcement must work together with federal authorities to protect our communities and that we can best serve our communities by leaving the enforcement of immigration laws to the federal government.”

The chiefs stress that if the federal government force local police to help with national policy, and “sometimes problematic tasks”, it “undermines the delicate federal balance and will harm locally-based [and] community-orientated policing”.

Highlights from President Trump's first speech to Congress

The passage goes on to dumb down what is one of the US President’s most treasured policies, reading: “Deputies should prioritise threats such as dangerous criminals and criminal organisations causing harm.”

It goes on to slate the administration over its proposal to remove grant funding from forces which refuse to play ball.

“Threatening the removal of valuable grant funding from jurisdictions that choose not to spend limited resources enforcing federal immigration law is extremely problematic,” it reads.

“Removing these funds that contribute to the health and well-being of communities across the nation would not make our communities safer and would not fix any part of our broken immigration system.”

 

The 70-year-old billionaire businessman signed an executive order instructing the Department of Homeland Security to look at which of over 400 ‘sanctuary cities’, areas which offer a safe haven for America’s 11 million undocumented migrants, should lose funding.

“The issue of so-called sanctuary jurisdictions is a complex one,” it reads.

“There is no set definition of what comprise a ‘sanctuary jurisdiction’ and the term is often defined much too broadly.

“The term often sweeps in localities that engage in well-established community policing practices or follow federal court decisions that have found federal immigration detainers violate the constitution.”

It finishes: “We hope that this committee (US Senate committee on homeland security) will avoid taking actions that could harm community trust and make it harder for state and local law enforcement agencies to do our jobs.”

It is signed by Boston police commissioner William Evans, Los Angeles commander Jody Sharp, and Salt Lake City chief Mike Brown.

Mr Trump appeared to backpedal yesterday, telling journalists at lunch he was willing to “compromise” on a new immigration bill.

But he quickly followed up by telling Congress he will publish a regular list of crimes committed by immigrants

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