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San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer: Local Police Will Not Act As Immigration Agents

Photo credit: Andrew Bowen

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer delivers his State of the City address, Jan. 12, 2017.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer


Kevin Faulconer, mayor, City of San Diego



Memo: Delegated Authority Program

Memo: Delegated Authority Program

In a memo issued to the San Diego City Council Mayor Kevin Faulconer said San Diego will maintain its long-standing tradition of police not initiating, "contact for the sole purpose of checking an individual's immigration status."

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In response to an inquiry from the San Diego City Council, Mayor Kevin Faulconer gave his clearest indication yet that the city will not participate in any attempt to deputize local law enforcement officers as Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

An executive order signed by President Donald Trump in January seeks to renew a national security policy that gives local police and sheriff's deputies authority to act as immigration agents and arrest undocumented immigrants.

RELATED: President Trump Signs Executive Orders On Border Wall, Sanctuary Cities

In a memo issued to the council on Wednesday, Faulconer said San Diego will maintain its long-standing tradition of police not initiating "contact for the sole purpose of checking an individual's immigration status."

Faulconer joined Midday Edition Friday to discuss the city's position on this issue.

Q. Is this stand against police acting as Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, agents a position the city is taking on principal, or for practical reasons?

A. Well, it’s a long standing policy that has served our city very, very well on both issues. Look, it’s very important that we have, and we do have, one of the safest big cities in the country. And the agreement that we’ve had ensures that he have not just safe communities, but we have the trust of individuals in neighborhoods. If you’re the victim of a crime, we want you to speak with our police officers. If you’re a witness to a crime, we want you to be able to speak with our police officers and not fear any other repercussions or recourse. It’s a policy that has worked very well for us over a number of years and, you know, Republican administrations, Democratic administrations, it’s just the right thing to do.

Q. You make clear in your memo that local law enforcement will continue to notify ICE of the immigration status of someone who gets booked into jail. Is that what you believe separates San Diego from a sanctuary city?

A. It is. Because, look, we have what we consider to be the right balance and again a balance that serves us very well in terms of safety. In terms of interaction with the community. In our philosophy of community policing, it’s essential that you have the trust of your community and neighborhoods and that’s something that our department has worked very, very hard on over that last several years, particularly the last decade. So, we want to continue that trust. It is something that has worked very, very well for us here in the city of San Diego and frankly, I think it's a policy that other cities can emulate.

Q. The reason the city council asked for clarification on this policy is because of the level of concern among many residents in San Diego. Have you personally heard from constituents on this issue about their concern of local law enforcement basically being turned into immigration agents?

A. It is a topic that has been in the news and certainly at community groups and other meetings. I think it's important for us as a city, one of the reasons that I wrote the memorandum, to reinforce what our policy has been and why it works and to continue that trust and to continue that support of our community and it is one, as I said, that is essential that has kept us one the safest big cities in the country.

Q. Do you have concerns about the recent immigration sweeps in Los Angeles?

A. I think every community is going to have to deal with its own issues in terms of interaction, not just locally but with the federal government. I think one of the things that’s important to us here in the region, is the strong support that we have, not just at the local level with our police department and our sheriff’s department, but the fact that we do work with our federal partners in terms of making sure that he have safe and secure communities. And it’s very important to me, part of the reason again why I wrote this memorandum, that we talk about what the primary focus is of our law enforcement and our police department ensure that we keep everybody safe. We’re fostering those partnerships between law enforcement and our neighbors and we’re saying to folks that there is a role for the police department, but it's not to become ICE officers.

Q. The president released his budget yesterday and among many other things, it eliminates Community Development Block Grants which are frequently used for projects in low-income areas of San Diego. What impact do you think that will have?

A. I will tell you that the CDBG grants are very important to us in San Diego. Not just for us here, but in cities across the state and indeed across the country. We utilize those for a variety of important programs, just like we use housing funds for a lot of our housing affordability and affordable housing. So, when we look at making sure our voice is heard at the federal level, particularly on the budget, strongly supporting the work that CDBG does and these HUD grants do is something that I am going to be very, very strongly supportive of continuing.

Q. Have you decided whether you’re going to run for governor next year Mayor Faulconer?

A. Maureen, I love exactly what I’m doing which is continuing to serve as mayor of this city and it’s an honor and a privilege and I’m looking forward to serving my entire four years.

Q. OK, so that’s a no?

A. I’m doing exactly what I’m doing.

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