The LAPD and Sheriff's Department are distancing officers from anything connected to federal immigration enforcement.
A new Los Angeles Police Department Order instructs that officers should not question most people about their place of birth, though that changes if the person gets arrested.
"Place of Birth" was a piece of information routinely collected and added to an LAPD database.
ACLU senior staff attorney Michael Kaufman, who works on immigrants' rights issues, says the place-of-birth question could make it seem like local police were asking about a person's immigration status, and he says he worries that information could be accessed by outside agencies.
"This obviously creates a lot of apprehension, on behalf of people interacting with the police, that they're being questioned about their immigration status, and potentially a record that could be used against them if that information was to be shared with immigration agencies," he said.
While the LAPD appears to be the first large department to conform to SB-54's restrictions, Kaufman says other police agencies will have to do the same.
Last week, the civilian board that advises the LA County Sheriff's Department suggested similar rules to distance deputies from immigration issues, and proposed new restrictions to prevent deputies from providing backup to federal agents trying to arrest people wanted for deportation.
So far, the sheriff's rules haven't changed.
"Existing policy dating back to 2015 already prevents deputies from asking for and documenting suspected immigration status except in very narrow, specific situations, consistent with the California values act," the department said in a statement.
The LAPD said Friday it drafted the directive "with the sole purpose of supporting and enhancing the community partnerships it's worked hard to build."
The policy change lines up with efforts by LA Mayor Eric Garcetti to remove information from other city files and documents that might identify someone living in the US illegally.