City could be the first in the United States to reject “routine” Homeland Security Memorandum of Understanding
Published : Thursday, February 16, 2017 | 1:57 PM
[Updated February 16, 2017 | 4:20 p.m.] With the announcement Wednesday evening by City Manager Steve Mermell that he would not “execute” a Memorandum of Understanding between the the Pasadena Police Department and Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE), Pasadena may become the first city in the nation to reject or attempt to terminate such an agreement, which have routinely been in effect in many U.S. cities since just after the Sept 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City.
A copy of the most recent renewal of ICE-Pasadena Police Department agreement was obtained on February 9 through a Public Records Act request by attorneys for a Pasadena immigration rights activist and made public on Sunday. The document was signed by Pasadena Chief of Police Phillip Sanchez on November 15, 2016.
Mermell told a meeting of the Council Public Safety Committee Wednesday, “No City contract is valid unless executed by an officer of the municipal corporation — in other words, me. I have not executed this MOU with ICE and furthermore, I am not going to be executing this MOU with ICE at the current time.”
However, according to Virginia Kice, the Western Regional Communications Director/Spokesperson for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agreement is in effect.
But Kice also added, “The city can terminate it at any time.”
Kice described the agreement as “commonplace and routine.”
“(These agreements) enable us to enlist the unique skills and resources of local law enforcement agencies,” she explained, “and it allows local agencies to tap the help of Federal law enforcement, and to get reimbursed for those costs.”
Kice said ICE operational officials in Southern California advised her that the agency currently has in place MOU’s like the Pasadena agreement with about 50 law enforcement agencies in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas.
When asked if any other city has refused to sign the agreement, Kice said, “ I am not aware that any agency has declined to sign it. This is to a city’s benefit and its participating agencies. It enables them to get reimbursed for investigations that they participate in, because they believe that these investigations are important to them.”
Kice also emphasized that “these agreements do not convey any kind of Federal authority on the participating state and local agencies. These agreements are not related to administrative immigration enforcement activity in any form or fashion. These agreements provide for local agencies to be reimbursed for overtime hours they invest in complex criminal investigations.”
The long-standing, but only recently publicly revealed, agreement technically mandates the Pasadena Police Department must assist federal immigration authorities with “any investigation or joint operation” within the City’s borders.
Chief of Police Phillip Sanchez said Sunday, however, that previous versions of the agreement have never resulted in Pasadena police collaborating or participating in immigration raids, and that the Police Department maintains a policy of not assisting with purely immigration-related federal enforcement efforts.