The San Gabriel Police Department signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Homeland Security last month that will allow police officers to assist Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.
“The parties agree that effective enforcement of the laws related to Homeland Security investigations jurisdictions requires close cooperation and coordination between the two parties,” states the Dec. 7 MOU, signed by San Gabriel Police Chief Eugene Harris and Joseph Macias, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations and ICE.
“The parties have therefore entered into this MOU to govern the use of HSI designations by certain employees of the San Gabriel Police Department,” the document states.
The agreement comes at a time when many California police departments, including Pasadena, are keeping their distance from ICE and its immigration enforcement activities. According to the MOU with San Gabriel, officers there may be forced to perform certain ICE duties, but the document does not explain what those duties are.
San Gabriel Public Information Officer Jonathan Fu said the agreement “allows us to address crimes that negatively impact the quality of life for both immigrants and non-immigrants. The [police] department does not engage in immigration checks, round-ups, or deportations,”” Fu wrote in an email to the Pasadena Weekly. “We adhere to California law, which prohibits us from enforcing federal immigration policies.”
Sixty-one percent of the residents in San Gabriel are of Asian descent, according to the latest US Census figures. Of the city’s 40,400 residents, 25 percent are Latino.
The MOU between the two parties comes on the heels of declarations by many California police departments including, Pasadena and Los Angeles, disavowing cooperation with ICE.
Last February, Pasadena City Manager Steve Mermell voided a reimbursement agreement between police and ICE after discovering he never signed the three-month-old document.
Mermell made the move as many called on city officials to declare Pasadena a sanctuary city — which protects residents living in the country without documentation from ICE. The city adopted a policy prohibiting city officials from discussing immigration status, but stopped short of declaring itself a sanctuary city.
Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez has reiterated several times that his officers do not enforce immigration laws, and officers do not check immigration status when making contact with civilians.
During his campaign, President Donald Trump threatened to slash federal funding from so-called sanctuary cities. In June, a federal judge ruled that Trump could not withhold that funding.