Landrieu: Trump's "sanctuary cities" policy won't endanger federal funding for New Orleans

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CHERYL GERBER
  • CHERYL GERBER

As President Donald Trump prepares to deny entry to immigrants and funding to cities he believes are harboring criminals living in the country illegally, Mayor Mitch Landrieu says New Orleans has complied with federal law and isn't in danger of losing federal funds. Landrieu also said the New Orleans Police Department "will not be coerced into joining Trump’s deportation army" via a deputized Homeland Security force.

Trump's executive orders likely will make "sanctuary cities" ineligible to receive federal grants, and the administration plans to publish, on a weekly basis, "a comprehensive list of criminal actions" allegedly committed by immigrants.

"The NOPD is focused on arresting those who commit violent crimes, not enforcing civil immigration laws," Landrieu said in a statement. "Those who commit a crime will be arrested — political theatrics have no bearing on the serious work at hand."

NOPD, currently under a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice, drafted its immigration policy with the approval of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), according to Landrieu, who said ICE "never expressed any concern with the NOPD’s policy." But Landrieu has been battling "theatrics" in Louisiana as state Attorney General Jeff Landry targeted New Orleans and Jefferson Parish for their so-called "sanctuary" status preventing local cops from handling federal immigration matters. The consent decree aims to prevent discriminatory policing behaviors, including immigration investigations, and was amended last year to coordinate with some ICE efforts. Trump's executive order — part of a broader immigration plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, end refugee entry into the U.S. and freeze immigration from several countries (several of which the U.S. has engaged in bombing campaigns) — would leave "sanctuary" designations up to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Attorney General. Municipalities designated "sanctuary" cities could then lose certain federal funding. Federal grants account for more than 10 percent of the city's budget.

Landry testified in Congress last fall blaming New Orleans following a fatal bus crash in St. John the Baptist Parish involving a driver living in the country illegally. Following Landry's testimony, Tyronne Walker, Landrieu's Director of Communications, said "we are just confused why Landry had to waste taxpayer money and time by flying all the way to Washington, D.C. to admit the truth."


"Landry’s continued politicization of the unfortunate traffic accident that killed three people, including St. John the Baptist Parish district fire chief Spence Chauvin, is sad and defies logic," Walker said.

Landrieu — using Landry's words from his testimony — said Louisiana “no longer has any jurisdictions prohibiting them from communicating with federal immigration authorities.”

"Because of these rigorous reviews of the NOPD’s policy, we do not believe that President Trump’s executive order will endanger any federal funding and there will be no change in our policy," Landrieu said.

In 2016, Republican state Reps. Valarie Hodges and Mike Johnson (now U.S. Rep.) — with Landry's support — led the charge at state Legislature to withhold certain funding for cities with "sanctuary policies." At a legislative committee hearing last year, NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison and Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand testified against the measure. "You want to cure the problem? Fund it," Normand said. "Don't come down here with some bullshit Republican philosophy from Washington D.C. ... and tell me how to do my business."

Landry told the same committee on May 17 that "sanctuary" policies are part of an agenda of providing "terrorists safe haven in American cities."

"We enforce all criminal law," Harrison said. "In our policy, which is taken directly from the consent decree, we shall not ask about immigration status. ... If that person is a victim or a witness, we will deal with that situation."

See Landrieu's full statement below.
"First and foremost, the City does now and will continue to follow federal laws, and we will continue to make sure that we arrest and convict violent criminals, regardless of their immigration status. But the NOPD will not be President Trump’s deportation force.

The City of New Orleans is a welcoming city, and we will continue to be a place whose racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity contribute to our growing economy, rich culture, resilience, and commitment to equity and inclusion.

The NOPD is focused on arresting those who commit violent crimes, not enforcing civil immigration laws. We will continue to do the work we are entrusted with by the people of New Orleans and remain focused on keeping our city and her citizens safe. This makes us safer because it increases trust between the community and law enforcement. Those who commit a crime will be arrested — political theatrics have no bearing on the serious work at hand.

The NOPD’s policy on immigration complies with federal law. The Department of Justice, the federal consent decree monitor and the Federal judge overseeing the consent decree have approved the immigration policy and it has served us well. Going back to September of 2015, officials at the Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) were consulted in the drafting of NOPD’s immigration policy. This agency, which is responsible for enforcing federal immigration laws, never expressed any concern with the NOPD’s policy.

It’s not just the City who believes the NOPD policy complies with Federal law. Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry testified to Congress in September that Louisiana “no longer has any jurisdictions prohibiting them from communicating with Federal immigration authorities.”

Because of these rigorous reviews of the NOPD’s policy, we do not believe that President Trump’s executive order will endanger any federal funding and there will be no change in our policy.

Lastly, the NOPD will not be coerced into joining Trump’s deportation army via the 287(g) program. Doing so would require the NOPD to pull officers focused on fighting crime off the street."

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