Guest Opinion | Reaction to “Pasadena Police Chief Sanchez Calms Local Deportation Raid Fears”

Published : Tuesday, February 14, 2017 | 6:46 AM

I do not feel reassured by Pasadena Police Chief Sanchez’s somewhat vague response regarding his department’s relationship with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (see his email below to Pasadena Now Publisher, James Macpherson). As Chief Sanchez himself recognizes, we are living in tense times, and there is great anxiety in our community, especially among children of immigrants who are worried that their parents could be deported. As such, Mayor Terry Tornek, the City Council, and Chief Sanchez have a duty to clearly state where Pasadena stands as a self-declared “sanctuary city.”

While it is true that roughly 400,000 people a year were deported during the Obama administration, immigrants now face an even greater threat from President Trump who campaigned on an anti-immigrant platform that declared war on immigrants. Last week’s raids are tangible signs that the federal government is gearing up to enact Trump’s campaign promises by vastly broadening the category of deportable offenses. (We need to look no further than the ICE arrest and deportation last week in Phoenix of mother and long-time resident Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos) It is time for the City of Pasadena to clearly state what it means by calling itself a “sanctuary city.” As such, I call on Mayor Terry Tornek and the City Council to direct Chief Sanchez to affirm that his department will:

  • Maintain a strict policy of confidentially by refusing to inquire about a person’s immigration status
  • Refuse to cooperate with ICE raids
  • Deny requests by ICE to detain people except under extraordinary circumstances involving violent and other extremely serious crimes

I also call on Mayor Tornek to ensure that the City of Pasadena:

  • Offer educational sessions at libraries and community centers to help immigrants and supporters know their rights when encountering ICE
  • Support SB – 54 , known as the “Values Act” as proposed by CA. Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León. (The act would ensure safety for all California residents by preventing the use of state and local resources for federal immigration actions)
  • Provide a detailed list of equipment and funds the city has and plans to receive from the federal government for air operations, body cameras and other resources. This will enable citizens to be better informed about the extent to which the city depends on federal funds for its policing.

Immigration law clearly falls under the jurisdiction of the federal government. As such, ICE has the right to enter communities and make arrests. But in order for the extremist policies proposed by Donald Trump to succeed, ICE absolutely needs to commandeer police and local resources. Until the time that Congress assumes its responsibilities to enact just and comprehensive immigration reform, I urge the City of Pasadena to resist any attempt to break up families by targeting immigrants – people who are vital to the very fabric of our community.


 Letter to Pasadena Now Publisher James Macpherson from Pasadena Chief of Police:

James, thank you for the opportunity to provide additional information and put things in context for your readers.  The agreement between the City of Pasadena Police Department and the Federal Department of Homeland Security/Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is similar to agreements that dozens of other law enforcement agencies in Southern California, and probably across the nation, have in place.  The latest agreement with Pasadena, which was executed in November 2016 extends an existing relationship that has gone back many years and does not reflect any new level of coordination between our agencies.  It is important understand this because in the current climate, many residents are fearful of potentially new efforts to identify and deport the undocumented. 

It remains the longstanding policy of the Pasadena Police Department to not inquire as to a persons’ residency status when interacting with law enforcement. To my knowledge, the Pasadena Police Department has never worked with ICE for the express purpose of enforcing federal immigration laws. Moreover, in 2016 the Pasadena Police Department had zero contacts with ICE.  That being said, on occasion in an effort to remove violent predators, sex offenders, or other dangerous persons from our community, federal resources can be extremely valuable. 

The agreement with Homeland Security/ICE is intended to create a pathway for reimbursement to the City for any operational expenses on the part of PPD from the Treasury Forfeiture Fund.  Under the agreement the Pasadena Police Department can be reimbursed for funds spent on narcotics investigations, cases involving violent offenders, or other dangerous suspects.  

If ICE Agents intend to conduct an operation in our community they are expected to notify the Pasadena Police Department in advance. If a police officer is available, he/she may accompany the agents to a location; however, they (PPD) are not part of the enforcement effort. The officer’s presence at the location creates real time communication link with the Pasadena Police Department’s Communication Center (ICE agents do not have PPD radio frequencies). By creating a real time communication link, the officer can request emergency resources/assistance in the event an ICE agent, the subject of interest, or someone related to the mission are seriously injured. 

Lastly, the Pasadena Police Department frequently works with Homeland Security, of which ICE is a department, for security at the Rose Parade, Rose Bowl Game, and Post Parade.  Homeland Security provides (often at no cost) personnel, equipment, and technology to safeguard these important events. I know the change in administration in Washington has many people concerned, I understand this, but I think it’s important for your readers to understand that the Pasadena Police Department will continue its practices which are well established and have been in place for many years. 

Please let me know it you have additional questions. 

Phillip L. Sanchez, Chief of Police



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