Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill this week that prevents federal immigration officials from masquerading as local police in California.
Assemblyman Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) penned the bill to curb the tactic reportedly used by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents. Media reports about ICE officials posing as local cops to induce compliance prompted Kalra to introduce the legislation.
AB 1440 notes that federal immigration agents are not licensed peace officers.
“I am pleased that Gov. Brown has signed AB 1440 into law, upholding the trust and faith our local law enforcement work to develop with local communities every day to provide for the public’s safety,” Kalra said in a statement. “Under the new federal administration, ICE and CBP are undertaking unprecedented and aggressive tactics to identify, monitor and detain undocumented immigrants for deportation. This bill sends a clear message—that in California, law enforcement officers are sworn to protect all residents, regardless of their immigration status.”
Analysis of the bill noted that immigration officials tend to detain people without warrants. To get around their warrantless searches, ICE and CBP agents tell people they’re police officers to get them to open the doors into their homes and businesses.
Officers have a legal right to mislead the public about their identity, but the practice is viewed as unethical. Inducing compliance to gain entry into a person’s property is viewed as coercion and a violation of Constitutional rights, according to immigrant advocates.
Because federal law overrides state law, the bill could be viewed as symbolic. However, the law provides a way for California and its local governments to send a message to residents that it does not condone President Trump’s immigration policies, which have quickened the pace of deportations that were already at a record clip under the previous administration.