Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti fears that President Donald Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration may cause Los Angeles to erupt in riots.
On Friday’s NPR’s “Latino USA” podcast, Garcetti said it is dangerous when “ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] calls themselves police,” adding that “it’s bad for ICE and it’s bad for LAPD” because “people open that door expecting to see LAPD.” He said “if something goes wrong” when ICE agents try to deport illegal immigrants, “I fear a tinderbox out there, where people will suddenly say no and try to defend… keep that person from being taken. That’s a very dangerous situation.”
“We just commemorated 25 years since the urban unrest and we know how quickly things can explode,” Garcetti said, referring to the 1992 L.A. riots.
Host Maria Hinojosa then asked whether “it has crossed your mind like, oh my God, the next tinderbox might not be black/white relations… but might end up being immigrant/police/ICE confrontations and then that can lead to an ugly, ugly chapter in L.A.’s life?”
Garcetti responded by asking listeners to imagine an ICE agent trying to deport a parent who is dropping off their child at school.
“Imagine that’s on the sidewalk and students start swarming and they’re teenagers,” he said. “It’s dangerous for those agents. It’s dangerous for our city because when you have 400 agents in this area of five or six counties of Southern California who are facing a two-million-person-estimated population that’s undocumented, even if you increase your ICE agents by 50 percent like the president wants to do… if you have 600 people trying to find two million people and somehow deport all of them… you can’t logistically do it and it makes us all less safe because you are not going after the truly dangerous people.”
Garcetti said, for instance, that if an illegal immigrant does not report that she got raped, “that rapist doesn’t ask for someone’s paper. They’re going to prey on our city, period.” He said police need to be trusted to the point where people are “willing to say I saw a crime being committed, I need to report that I am a survivor of domestic violence.”
Garcetti said he wishes Trump and Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and others in Trump’s administration would spend more time where immigrants actually live. He argued that “they have a caricature of who these people are” and added that the situation is “different on the ground” because most families and neighborhoods in predominantly immigrant communities are “blended.”
He also defended Los Angeles as a “sanctuary city,” saying he was more than proud of that designation.
“If sanctuary city means your police force will not be deputized or will take it upon themselves to enforce immigration law, then absolutely we are and proudly so,” he said.
Garcetti added that half of the country hears the term “sanctuary city” and the “caricature is these are places that invite dangerous criminals” and give them “bonus points” while asking them to “please live amongst us and we will protect you.”
“And that’s absolutely absurd,” he said, even though illegal immigrants with criminal pasts have murdered innocent Americans like Kate Steinle in “sanctuary cities” like San Francisco. Steinle’s murderer, who had been deported five times, said he chose to reside in San Francisco specifically because he knew it was a “sanctuary city.”