Illegal immigrants busted for low-level crimes in Los Angeles will no longer be turned over to federal authorities, says LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. The chief, who accuses federal authorities of unfairly treating illegal immigrants involved in petty crimes, says the new policy will be in place by the start of next year, reports the Los Angeles Times. The move will affect an estimated 400 people per year arrested for crimes like illegal vending or driving without a license. Known gang members or people with violent criminal records will still be handed over to the feds.
Beck said the move is intended to build trust between the LAPD and the city's different communities. "It strikes me as somebody who runs a police department that is 45% Hispanic and polices a city that is at least that, that we need to build trust in these communities and we need to build cooperation or we won't be prepared," he said. The chief said the city attorney had told him that it was not mandatory for the force to comply with detention requests from federal immigration authorities, the New York Times reports. No word yet on how the Obama administration will respond.