JULY 22, 2010
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has filed an open records lawsuit against the Pasadena Police Department (PPD), and PPD Police Chief Christopher Vicino, to obtain documents related to the department’s alleged illegal alien sanctuary policy. Chief Vicino reportedly indicated that the department prevents his officers from “asking about anybody’s legal status unless it is a matter of national security,” which may be a violation of federal immigration law. On June 4, Judicial Watch sent the PPD a request under the California Public Records Act seeking access to the following:
- Any and all records of PPD’s policies, procedures, or directives concerning, regarding, or relating to undocumented (illegal) aliens.
- Any and all records of PPD’s policies, procedures, or directives concerning, regarding or relating to contacts or communications between PPD officers or employees and federal immigration officials regarding a person’s immigration status.
To date, the PPD has not provided any documents responsive to this request, nor has the department indicated when a response is forthcoming.
According to a May 16, 2010, issue of the Pasadena Star News commenting on the PPD’s illegal immigration policy: “[Vicino] said that the Pasadena Police Department has the policy of not asking about anybody’s legal status unless it is a matter of national security.”
In 1996, Congress enacted legislation that specifies that a Federal, State, or local government entity or official may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual. However, the Obama administration recently announced that it will not penalize so-called sanctuary cities, such as Pasadena, that prevent the police from communicating freely with ICE.
“If the Pasadena Police Department has nothing to hide then why keep these records secret? The citizens of Pasadena have a right to know if their own police department has enacted a dangerous policy that violates federal immigration law,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “It is beyond belief that the Obama Justice Department has decided to allow localities to violate federal immigration laws while suing a state such as Arizona that expressly upholds the law. This is the very definition of injustice.”
Judicial Watch’s lawsuit against the PPD is part of its nationwide campaign to enforce our nation’s immigration laws. Judicial Watch has initiated legal campaigns against sanctuary policies in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Chicago and Washington, DC, among other cities. July 14, Judicial Watch filed a “Motion to Intervene” on behalf of Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, author of Arizona’s new illegal immigration law SB 1070, in an Obama Justice Department lawsuit challenging the law, which is set to take effect on July 29. On July 20, Judicial Watch also filed a memorandum on behalf of Senator Pearce with the United States Court for the District of Arizona opposing the Obama Justice Department’s “Motion for Preliminary Injunction,” which would prevent sections of Senator Pearce’s SB 1070 from taking effect as scheduled.