Law Enforcement Leaders and Prosecutors Defend DACA

March 20, 2018

ICAP coauthors brief signed by 63 top law enforcement officials arguing DACA program increases cooperation with police and improves public safety

Over 60 prominent national law enforcement leaders, including current sitting Police Chiefs,Sheriffs, District Attorneys, State’s Attorneys, and Prosecuting Attorneys from 28 jurisdictions representing over 25 million people around the country are defending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, highlighting the essential benefits it provides to public safety by encouraging cooperation between immigrants and law enforcement, while warning of the damage to public trust rescinding the program would bring.

This group of prominent prosecutors and law enforcement leaders filed a friend-of-the-court (amicus) brief supporting a federal district court injunction to preserve DACA after the Trump Administration began unwinding the program in September 2017. The Department of Justice is challenging that nationwide injunction, which went into effect on January 9, 2018, and has appealed that order to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The case occupies an influential spot in the larger national debate on immigration policy, with the lives of 800,000 individuals brought to the country as children hanging in the balance.

“DACA protects individuals who have lived, worked, and studied as continuous residents of the United States for over a decade,” said Miriam Aroni Krinsky, Executive Director of Fair and Just Prosecution and a signatory on the brief. “These individuals are active members of our workforce and our social circles, and prosecutors and law enforcement leaders understand their importance to the rich and diverse fabric of our community. Beyond its cruel significance for those the program directly protects, an end to DACA would threaten a serious loss of public trust and cooperation between immigrant populations and law enforcement. These developments could set off a dangerous chain reaction that would jeopardize public safety.”

Twenty eight current prosecutors and law enforcement leaders from diverse jurisdictions across the country were among the 63 signators on the brief, including District Attorneys Diana Becton(Contra Costa County, California), Mark Dupree (Wyandotte County (Kansas City), Kansas), Sim Gill (Salt Lake County, Utah), Eric Gonzalez (Kings County (Brooklyn), New York), Mark Gonzalez (Nueces County (Corpus Christi), Texas), Larry Krasner (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), Beth McCann (2nd Judicial Circuit (Denver), Colorado), Raúl Torrez (Bernalillo County (Albuquerque), New Mexico) and Cyrus Vance (New York County (Manhattan), New York), State Attorney Aramis Ayala (Ninth Judicial Circuit (Orlando) Florida), State’s Attorneys Sarah George(Chittenden County (Burlington), Vermont) and Marilyn Mosby (Baltimore City, Maryland), Prosecuting Attorneys Dan Satterberg (King County (Seattle), Washington) and Carol Siemon(Ingham County (Lansing), Michigan), Police Chiefs Art Acevedo (Houston, Texas Police Department), Charles Beck (Los Angeles, California Police Department) Kenneth Ferguson(Framingham, Massachusetts Police Department), Ronald Haddad (Dearborn, Michigan Police Department) Chris Magnus (Tucson, Arizona Police Department), Abdul Pridgen (Seaside, California Police Department), Celestino Rivera (Lorain, Ohio Police Department), Michael Tupper (Marshalltown, Iowa Police Department), Sheriffs Jerry L. Clayton (Washtenaw County, Michigan Sheriff’s Office), Mark Curran (Lake County, Illinois Sheriff’s Office), Tony Estrada(Santa Cruz County, Arizona Sheriff’s Office), Bill McCarthy (Polk County, Iowa Sheriff’s Office), Joe Pelle (Boulder County, Colorado Sheriff’s Office), Richard Wiles (El Paso County, Texas Sheriff’s Office), and Commissioner Charles Ramsey (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Police Department, retired).

The brief lays out the multitude of advantages DACA provides to law enforcement officials and reflects the perspectives and experiences of leaders in jurisdictions heavily impacted by immigration. The signatories hail a community policing approach based on trust and engagement between law enforcement and those they protect, and consider DACA to be crucial to maintaining that trust. Its absence, they argue, would inflame fears that neither undocumented immigrants nor their lawfully present family and neighbors could turn to the police without facing drastic consequences.

“Rescinding DACA would be a devastating step backwards as my officers work to build trust with immigrant communities,” said Chief Chris Magnus, of the Tucson, Arizona Police Department. “Without that trust, we lose valuable lines of communication, witnesses to crimes, and information needed to protect populations that face heightened risks of crime and exploitation.”

DACA’s guarantee of protection from deportation encourages helpful communication with law enforcement, without which community policing cannot thrive. Destruction of that public trust would hamper the capabilities of law enforcement and prosecutors while fostering crime-friendly conditions in at-risk communities, the brief’s signatories argue.

The amicus brief was authored by the Chicago law firm of Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym, Ltd., in conjunction with Georgetown Law’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection (ICAP). Fair and Just Prosecution, a national network of newly elected prosecutors committed to change and innovation, coordinated the amicus effort. In November of last year, the same organizations filed an amicus brief on behalf of prosecutors and law enforcement leaders in support of a lawsuit by the State of California resisting Trump Administration efforts to entangle local police in federal immigration enforcement.

“This brief represents the expert opinions of leaders who interact with immigrant communities and work to preserve public safety on a daily basis,” said Joshua Geltzer, ICAP’s executive director and visiting professor at Georgetown Law. “At this critical juncture for resolving issues of immigration law and policy, their voices need to be heard. And they are clearly and definitively standing behind DACA.”

The amicus brief is available here.