Lawsuit Dismissed In LAPD Immigration Status Questions Case

KNBC-TV (Los Angeles), June 25, 2008

A Los Angeles judge dismissed a taxpayer lawsuit Wednesday that sought to repeal a long-standing directive prohibiting Los Angeles police officers from asking arrestees about their immigration status.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treu sided with the city and the American Civil Liberties Union, which claimed there were no triable issues raised in the suit. He heard arguments on the motion June 10 and had the case under submission since then.

Los Angeles resident Harold P. Sturgeon filed suit in May 2006 against police Chief William J. Bratton and members of the Police Commission, seeking to have Special Order 40 declared unlawful.

In court papers, Sturgeon’s lawyers called Special Order 40 “essentially a ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy regarding illegal aliens.”

Sturgeon asked for a permanent injunction preventing taxpayer money from being used to enforce it. He and other critics said the 28-year-old mandate from the Los Angeles City Council hampers the LAPD’s ability to exchange information with federal immigration officials.

The order is intended to avoid discouraging illegal immigrants from reporting crimes and assisting police.

In their court papers, lawyers for the City Attorney’s Office maintained the directive does not prevent the LAPD from working closely with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.

“There is no evidence . . . to show that ICE has ever complained that they have not had the assistance of LAPD, or that LAPD has not come when they are called,” the city’s court papers state.

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Last year, the Los Angeles City Council went on record against any future federal legislation that would force the Los Angeles Police Department to change its policy on identifying undocumented immigrants.

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Los Angeles was the first major city to enact the Special Order 40 policy in 1979.

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