Dozens Of Police Chiefs, Sheriffs, Call On Trump To End Government Shutdown And Forget Border Wall

A coalition of dozens of local law enforcement leaders across the United States has sent a letter to President Donald Trump and Congress calling for an end to the ongoing partial government shutdown.

In the letter, which was penned by the Law Enforcement Immigration Task Force and signed by 44 police chiefs and sheriffs across the country, local law enforcement leaders urge Trump and Congress to "reopen the federal government without delay and work together on bipartisan solutions to improve our immigration system."

Read more: Government shutdown: U.S. State Department cancels border security conference because of 'very limited funding'

Law enforcement officials, including police chiefs and sheriffs from Texas, Arizona, Florida and Washington, D.C., warned that the shutdown, which has lasted more than a month since Trump refused to accept any spending legislation that does not include funding for his long-promised border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, has created circumstances that "threaten public safety."

"State and local law enforcement work constructively with federal law enforcement to combat drug trafficking, gangs, organized crime, and other threats. In addition, the federal government provides needed training, equipment, and funding to state and local law enforcement agencies–support that is now threatened by the ongoing shutdown," law enforcement officials said in their letter.

"A prolonged shutdown threatens this cooperation and strains local resources," they said. "It also negatively impacts our colleagues in federal law enforcement, forcing essential law enforcement personnel to work without pay. These circumstances threaten public safety and cannot continue."

The group said that "while there are partisan disagreements over the need for a border wall across our entire southern border, there is widespread agreement over commonsense steps that can improve border security."

Rather than focus on a border wall, the group suggested that a bipartisan deal could "build on these areas of agreement" by focusing on "improving border security by focusing on ports of entry, strategically deploying and using technology and ensuring that [the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency] has clear sight lines all along the Rio Grande."

"With nearly 700 miles of physical barriers already in place along the southern border, these targeted investments in border security can contribute to improving public safety and reassuring the American people that the border is a priority," the letter said.

The coalition also said that bipartisan immigration reform would "benefit the United States as a whole," starting with including undocumented immigrants in the legal immigration system.

"We believe that immigrants should feel safe in their communities and comfortable calling upon law enforcement to report crimes, serving as witnesses, and calling for help in emergencies," the law enforcement officials said. "By reforming our immigration system to bring undocumented immigrants into the legal immigration system, immigrants are incentivized to become constructive partners with local police in public safety initiatives."

"Bipartisan immigration reform can provide undocumented immigrants with an opportunity to earn citizenship, requiring them to pay a fine and back taxes and pass a background check, encouraging further civic responsibility. This would improve community policing and safety for everyone," the group said.

"The current impasse is an opportunity for Congress and the Trump administration to strike a bipartisan agreement to end the shutdown and fix our immigration system," the law enforcement officials said. "We urge Congress and the Trump administration to break this deadlock and improve public safety by reopening the government without delay and working to reach a bipartisan compromise that includes commonsense border security as part of a comprehensive reform of the immigration system."

The partial government shutdown went into effect last month on December 22 after Trump refused to sign a stopgap measure to keep the government running because it did not include the $5.7 billion in funding he has demanded for the construction of his border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

As the shutdown enters its 33rd day, roughly 800,000 federal employees are still furloughed or working without pay across around a quarter of all government departments, with many being forced to join the gig economy, turn to crowdfunding and rely on food banks to support themselves and their families.

President Donald Trump participates in a Missile Defense Review announcement on January 17 at the Pentagon, in Arlington, Virginia. Dozens of local law enforcement leaders have called on Trump and Congress to end the ongoing government shutdown. Martin H. Simon/Getty