But some within the department acknowledge that being able to report detainees to immigration officials could provide an important and well-needed crime-fighting tool. But both Police Chief William Bratton and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa have been unwavering in their support of the more than 30-year-old policy. “It doesn’t preclude us from dealing with the arrest and prosecution of illegal immigrants that are engaged in crime,” said Bratton, noting he didn’t think the lawsuit had much of a chance. The intent of Special Order 40, he said, was “to encourage illegal immigrants and undocumented or aliens to report to police if they have been victims of crimes or that they were witnesses to crimes.” [email protected] (818) 713-3741160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! The suit comes as the national debate over immigration has re-ignited, with President George W. Bush this week calling for an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws. The city already is facing trial in another lawsuit over the order filed by Washington, D.C.-based Judicial Watch. Experts say the highest concentration of America’s estimated 11 million illegal immigrants is in Los Angeles, and federal officials recently announced an increased focus on deporting those in jail. Klehm, who quit his job as a medical malpractice attorney last year to target immigration violators, said he was filing the suit only after several LAPD officers contacted him saying they felt stymied by the rule. In the lawsuit, he is citing a government report that found 55,322 illegal immigrants were incarcerated nationally in 2003. Among those, law enforcement officials had made 459,614 arrests. The Los Angeles Police Protective League has not taken a position on the lawsuit, said Eric Rose, a spokesman for the union representing more than 9,000 officers. Ahead of the expected filing of a second lawsuit against the LAPD’s Special Order 40, the department has come under more pressure to take another look at its stance against asking someone’s immigration status. The new lawsuit, which was scheduled to be filed Wednesday by an Orange County attorney and founder of the Web site www.illegalemployers.org, argues that the LAPD violates a section of the state health code by not reporting drug offenders to immigration officials. “Police officers were frustrated because the department was not letting the officers comply with the law,” said David Klehm, representing a Los Angeles resident in the suit. “I am not talking about people reporting crimes being affected, I am talking about people committing crimes,” he said, characterizing the arrest of illegal immigrants as a revolving door that allows them to go in and out of jail.