Congressional Bill Seeks to Prohibit Immigration Officers From Identifying Themselves as ‘Police’

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A new bill introduced in Congress this week would prohibit immigration officers from wearing any clothing bearing the word “police,” which officials in some heavily immigrant communities complain is deceiving and only serves to escalate tensions as the Trump administration steps up efforts to crack down on undocumented immigrants.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement released a photo on Feb. 10, 2017, of its officers arresting an unidentified foreign national the day before.

The bill, authored by Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-New York) and would apply to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Border Patrol agents, comes at a time when officials and immigrant rights advocates in Los Angeles are urging ICE agents to stop identifying themselves as “police” in their search for people living in the country illegally.

In February, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, City Atty. Mike Feuer and Council President Herb Wesson co-signed a letter to the directors of ICE and the Enforcement and Removal Operations division of ICE “to urge in the strongest possible terms that ICE immediately cease this practice in our city.” The letter was copied to Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly.

The letter noted that the city’s immigrant communities are living in heightened fear of deportation and detention, and that such practices only discourage people from reporting crimes. Police Chief Charlie Beck has also gone to significant lengths to distance the L.A. Police Department’s work from that of the immigration enforcement agency.

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