Culver City Police and Other Manuals Encourage Profiling for Immigration Arrests

Credit:Serge_Bertasius
Credit:Serge_Bertasius

(ESPAÑOL) Culver City police say their officers don’t enforce federal immigration law. The City Council declared the town a so-called sanctuary city last month, promising to protect the public safety of all city residents, regardless of immigration status.

But the Police Department’s manual seems to suggest something different, offering officers guidance on how to stop people suspected of illegally entering the U.S., a misdemeanor under federal law.

Culver City’s policy says “a lack of English proficiency may be considered” as a possible criterion for police to suspect that someone entered the country illegally, though it goes on to say that “it should not be the sole factor in establishing reasonable suspicion.”

The department is one of at least 11 in California that uses blanket police manuals from Lexipol, an Irvine company that drafts policies for law enforcement agencies.

Civil rights activists are now raising concerns about the manuals, saying they encourage immigration enforcement at a time when many local police agencies are trying to build trust with immigrant communities fearful over President Trump’s calls for more deportations. The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California sent a five-page letter to Lexipol on Wednesday morning calling on the company to modify the policy.

“By suggesting that officers may systematically consider characteristics widely shared by Californians to arrive at reasonable suspicion of a crime, the policy encourages profiling and illegal detentions, and runs afoul of the Fourth Amendment,” the letter reads.

In addition to Culver City, police in Azusa, Blythe, Brisbane, Fontana, Fremont, Irwindale, Laguna Beach, Murrieta, Rialto and Walnut Creek in California all purchased the policy, according to the ACLU.

While troublesome, immigration authorities and other proponents of stricter immigration control assert that such factors should only be considered in addition to more serious ones, such as possession of false immigration documents, and not by themselves.