DOJ gives New Orleans "last chance" on NOPD immigration policy

Posted October 14, 2017

The Justice Department on Thursday sent out a "last chance" warning for several USA cities to comply with federal immigration laws, the latest step in a battle over so-called "sanctuary cities".

The Department of Justice found New York City isn't complying with federal immigration laws and ordered the Big Apple to prove it's not a sanctuary city by October 27 or risk losing millions in federal grant dollars. The Department of Justice's letter to the city appears to suggest that its attorneys believe any restriction at all on local police inquiring about an immigrant's status by definition would violate federal law.

The section Sessions references, Section 1373, is a federal statute barring local and state governments from limiting communication regarding residents' immigration or citizenship status with federal officials.

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Kenney has been an ardent supporter of Philadelphia's "sanctuary city" policies.

New Orleans demonstrators rallied to support DACA and immigrant communities in September.

At the center of the dispute is the NOPD's policy, governed by the city's federal consent decree, that generally prohibits local police from inquiring about someone's immigration status except as needed to comply with federal law.

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New Orleans and the other cities have until Oct. 27 to prove compliance, the department said Thursday (Oct. 12). Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry also has pounced on New Orleans over the issue in the wake of Trump's immigration policies.

Landry, in a press release Thursday, declared himself "the state's most aggressive critic of sanctuary cities" and said he'd repeatedly warned Landrieu over the policies.

The department also wrote that the city's policy of not sharing the immigration status of victims of crime is also in violation of the law. The City of New Orleans will not be side-tracked by caustic, political rhetoric that seeks to make us fearful of others and scapegoat immigrants. The pair have threatened to cut off federal funding to the cities - which include Hartford and New Haven - but so far that hasn't happened. Immigration is a federal matter. "Irrespective of immigration status, our police departments every day are out there aggressively making sure the streets of America are safe".

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Sanctuary cities can be denied federal dollars under President Trump's January 25 executive order created to crack down on localities that protect undocumented immigrants from federal immigration authorities. The Justice Department is appealing the ruling, according to the Chicago Tribune. Landrieu and NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison also have argued that targeting people through immigration status makes vulnerable communities less likely to report crimes and work with law enforcement.