Why You Should Call Your Local Police Department

In the wake of last week's presidential election, a rising tide of civil disobedience against Donald Trump's anticipated federal policies is already growing. Tens of thousands of Americans across the country have taken to the street in protest, organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood have received countless donations, and now some very important institutions are standing up to support undocumented immigrants. Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck announced Monday that his department will keep its relatively relaxed immigration enforcement policies, and you should call your local police department to make sure they aren't targeting undocumented immigrants, too.

“I don’t intend on doing anything different,” Beck said at Monday's press conference. “We are not going to engage in law enforcement activities solely based on somebody’s immigration status. We are not going to work in conjunction with Homeland Security on deportation efforts. That is not our job, nor will I make it our job.”

According to the Migration Policy Institute, nearly 10 percent of all undocumented immigrants in the United States live in Los Angeles County, so Beck's announcement goes a long way toward protecting the group that arguably received the brunt of Trump's hateful rhetoric throughout his presidential campaign.

Officials in several other major cities including Seattle, New York, and Chicago have stated that they also intend to remain immigrant sanctuaries, meaning they don't enforce policies that actively seek to deport undocumented immigrants. Los Angeles police officers are not allowed to stop someone specifically to find out their immigration status, and Providence, Rhode Island, does not hold residents with civil infractions for federal immigration officials to come get them.

The cities are taking a pretty big risk here, as Trump has threatened to withhold federal funding if cities don't comply with his immigration crackdown (though it's unclear specifically what funding he would withhold, since they have to be reasonably related to immigration thanks to a Supreme Court ruling). However, compliance with Trump's policies is difficult to morally justify since his stance on undocumented immigration seems to be so clearly racially motivated.

Trump's immigration policy is explicitly racist because it's been almost universally accompanied by prejudiced statements and attitudes toward Latinx people. Over and over, he has treated Latinxs as monolithic, appropriated Mexican culture when it's convenient to him, and failed to acknowledge the geopolitical circumstances that forced their emigration in the first place. The local authorities who have already stood up against Trump may or may not have taken that into account, but the willingness to actively defy institutional racism is commendable either way.

That being said, it's now your turn to make sure your community is held to the same standard. You should call your local police department to make sure they use some of the same strategies as other immigrant sanctuary cities, particularly if you live in a heavily Latinx community.

Trump's election has forced the country to think of ways to better care for those most marginalized in society, and among those are undocumented immigrants. America is supposed to be a land of opportunity for all, especially those who are trying to escape political instability and economic oppression. Use your voice to be a voice for others, because undocumented immigrants deserve the safety and prosperity that the United States has to give.