UCLA professors expect President-elect Donald Trump’s immigration policies to have little effect on Los Angeles.
City officials will develop a plan to protect the city’s undocumented residents in response to Trump’s anti-immigration platform. In his campaign, Trump promised to deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants from the country. He also said he would remove federal funding from “sanctuary cities,” such as Los Angeles, which enact policies that protect undocumented immigrants from deportation.
Some UCLA professors said Trump’s proposals may be difficult to enact because of constitutional restraints.
Ingrid Eagly, a UCLA law professor, said the Los Angeles Police Department’s 1979 Special Order 40 states that officers will not initiate police action after learning a person has entered the country illegally or detain a person on the sole fact that they entered the country illegally. She added the federal government, not city or state governments, enforces immigration law.
Additionally, cities cannot refuse to give the federal government information about a person’s legal status if it is requested, said Hiroshi Motomura, a UCLA law professor. However, police in sanctuary cities choose not to alert the federal government of a person’s immigration status, he said.
This practice does not violate the law because the 10th Amendment states that the federal government cannot force cities to follow its orders, Motomura said.
“The federal government cannot tell cities, ‘We don’t have any agents, so you have to be our agents now,’” he said.
He added the 10th Amendment and other constitutional provisions would prohibit Trump from withholding federal funds from sanctuary states and cities.
“The Constitution protects the independence of cities to interact with their residents,” Motomura said. “Cities can come up with measures concerning immigration around the general context of their jurisdiction.”
Motomura and Eagly agreed the city should come up with more ways to support the undocumented community. They suggested providing Los Angeles residents with lawyers or counseling services when they face deportation.
“Cities need to think what they are going to do beyond calling themselves ‘sanctuary cities’ to help undocumented immigrants,” Motomura said.
The term “sanctuary city” has been used to label cities that do not aid the federal government in deporting undocumented immigrants, Motomura said. In Los Angeles’ case, LAPD has adopted Special Order 40.
At a Los Angeles City Council meeting Thursday, Council President Herb Wesson said he wants to discuss how the council can provide services to undocumented immigrants who may feel threatened under a Trump presidency. He also introduced the idea of hiring a city immigration advocate who would pursue policies to prevent immigrants from being deported.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck also stood against Trump’s proposal on Nov. 14, assuring residents that LAPD officers will not help the federal government deport undocumented immigrants.
Cristian De Nova Ledesma, an undocumented student and a fourth-year microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics student, said he does not yet know how he will be affected by Trump’s immigration proposals.
De Nova Ledesma said he thinks the city council is working in the right direction to help its undocumented community and supports the idea of having an immigration advocate for the city. He added he thinks the city should look into police officers allegedly violating the rights of undocumented immigrants while they are jailed or detained.
He said he also thinks the city should reach out to the undocumented community and organizations before enacting any policies.
At UCLA, students have begun lobbying to University of California officials to provide legal services to undocumented students and continue noncooperation between university police and the federal government.