Salt Lake City police chief assures undocumented immigrants his officers aren’t trying to deport them

(Trent Nelson | Tribune file photo) Salt Lake City police Chief Mike Brown added his name to a letter reassuring illegal immigrants that local police want to protect, not deport them.

Salt Lake City’s police chief added his signature to a letter asserting that local police want to protect, not deport, undocumented immigrants simply for being in the United States.

The letter from the Law Enforcement Immigration Task Force assures immigrants that “immigration enforcement is, first and foremost, a federal responsibility” and that local officers will “cooperate with federal law enforcement” only when there are “threats in our communities” and “our safety is at stake.”

The letter is signed by 56 law-enforcement officials, including current and former police chiefs and sheriffs, from 23 states. Salt Lake Police Chief Mike Brown’s predecessor, retired Salt Lake Police Chief Chris Burbank, also signed the letter.

“Following the tragic Aug. 3 shooting in El Paso, Texas, and raids the following week in Mississippi, we know that many immigrants in our communities are afraid,” it says. “We are here to serve all communities.”

The letter goes on to tell immigrants that local police “need your trust” and “want you to feel safe … and comfortable calling law enforcement to report crimes, serving as witnesses, and asking for help in emergencies.”

It was signed by law enforcement officials from Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

In August, Brown added his signature to a letter from the Law Enforcement Immigration Task Force addressed to President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence that expressed “concern about the reports of possible unacceptable conditions for children in the custody of the federal government.” They urged the Trump administration to “minimize the detention of children” and to release “thoroughly vetted minors” to “sponsoring relatives and friends throughout the U.S., or properly vetted local churches and non-profit organizations.