Undocumented immigrants aren’t exactly the boogeymen that current political rhetoric would have you believe. LAPD Police Chief Charlie Beck appears to know this well, the Los Angeles Times reports. From decades of working with his city’s undocumented population, Beck says he has gained the kind of invaluable experience necessary to know what works and what doesn’t. Beck says he understands the vital role these 500,000 (his estimate) people play in the societal fabric of Los Angeles, a sanctuary city, and the harm that could result from a massive deportation effort. And this exactly why Beck has publicly refused to turn his police force into President Trump’s “immigration cops.”
Police Chief Beck’s understanding of the undocumented population has evolved over the course of his career.
shay sowden/Neon Tommy/flickr
According to Beck, making police officers enforce immigration policy will “come at the expense of public safety.” He believes it would also make undocumented immigrants easier to exploit, as they are less likely to go to the police.
“In the mid-1990s, when the state cracked down [on] illegal immigration, all we did was drive people underground,” Beck told the Los Angeles Times. In that kind of environment, Beck said, it becomes difficult for the police to do their job because undocumented witnesses are less likely to speak up. That’s not the environment Beck wants to create in Los Angeles, and for Beck, it’s not just a matter of losing federal money, it’s a matter of sticking to his beliefs.
The Los Angeles Times‘ piece on Police Chief Beck is a glimpse into the mind of a man who has worked with undocumented immigrants for over 40 years, and it’s worth a read.