Based on recent events and inquiries from the Palo Alto community, the Palo Alto Police Department has put together the following information to explain the relationship between the Palo Alto Police Department and the federal government (specifically, Immigration & Customs Enforcement, or "ICE") on immigration matters.
Historically, currently, and moving forward we have not, do not and will not assist the federal government with immigration-related investigations or enforcement. Specifically, this means we do not participate in or assist with any “raids” or “sweeps” conducted by ICE or other agencies targeting those who are suspected of violating federal immigration laws. Consistent with City, City Council, and community expectations and desires, we believe immigration enforcement is a matter of federal law that is best left in the hands of federal authorities.
In addition to not providing assistance to federal agencies with their immigration-related investigations or enforcement, we have not, do not, and will not initiate any investigations on our own for suspected federal immigration violations.
On extremely rare occasions and through the normal course of our duties of policing Palo Alto, we may encounter an individual who happens to have an outstanding criminal warrant for a violation of any number of federal statutes (including statutes related to immigration). These warrants are issued by judges and command the arrest of the individual for a case under the jurisdiction of that judge. We handle these arrest warrants like any other: we take the individual into custody and book them at the Santa Clara County Main Jail in accordance with standard operating procedure.
Occasionally, the Palo Alto Police Department will reach out to federal law enforcement agencies (which could include ICE) when their assistance would be beneficial regarding a significant or violent crime that occurred in Palo Alto. Such assistance might pertain to assistance in locating a wanted suspect who is attempting to flee California and/or the United States in order to avoid arrest.
To view our full policy providing guidelines to our Department personnel related to immigration laws, click here.
In December 2016, the Palo Alto City Council passed a resolution entitled “Palo Alto City Council Resolution No. 9653 – Resolution of the Council of the City of Palo Alto to Reaffirm Palo Alto's Commitment to a Diverse, Supportive, Inclusive, and Protective Community.” The resolution covered a wide range of topics including the immigration status of our residents. Nothing in the current practice or policy of the Palo Alto Police Department is inconsistent with the views expressed in the resolution.
In January 2017, the Palo Alto Police Department thoroughly reviewed our procedures and ensured that they are fully compliant with the provisions of California Assembly Bill 2792, which took effect as state law on January 1, 2017 and is commonly referred to as the “TRUTH Act.” Note that since we do not conduct joint operations with ICE, many portions of that law do not directly apply to our agency.
On March 14, 2017, the Santa Clara County Police Chiefs’ Association distributed a letter to the Santa Clara County community regarding the collective commitment of the county’s various law enforcement agencies to serve and protect in a way that seeks to calm fear and build trust. Interim Chief Ron Watson of the Palo Alto Police Department joined the chiefs of every other city in the county, the sheriff, and the District Attorney in signing the letter, affirming our agency’s commitment to the tenets therein. To read a Spanish version of the letter, click here and scroll down.
The success and effectiveness of local law enforcement is based in large measure on a relationship of trust between the community and the police. We value all members of our community, regardless of their country of origin or their immigration status, and we depend on their cooperation to ensure that we can safely protect all people within Palo Alto.