Protesters outside City Hall following Trump's January immigration order.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu stood by New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) policy following a report that puts New Orleans on a list
of U.S. cities that "limit cooperation" with federal immigration authorities.
Landrieu says targeting immigrant communities is likely to break any trust between them and police, which could prevent people from reporting crimes or testifying as witnesses, under threat of their immigration status being questioned.
“First and foremost, the NOPD does now and will continue to follow federal laws and focus on arresting people who commit crime, regardless of their immigration status," Landrieu said in a March 21 statement. "The NOPD’s policy on immigration complies with federal law and makes New Orleans safer because individuals are more likely to report crime, and victims and witnesses can testify without fear of being questioned about their immigration status. That’s why the NOPD will continue to focus on arresting those who commit violent crimes, not enforcing civil immigration laws."
Landrieu's statement echoes his defense of NOPD policy in January
when President Donald Trump's first round of executive orders targeting immigrants threatened to cut federal funding to cities with so-called "sanctuary" policies. A report from the Department of Homeland Security this week puts New Orleans on a list of cities "that have enacted policies which limit cooperation" with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Landrieu says ICE supported NOPD as the department drafted its immigration policy as part of the consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice. "[ICE], which is responsible for enforcing federal immigration laws, never expressed any concern with the NOPD’s policy," Landrieu said.
"We are focused on fighting crime, and we will not move officers off the street to join President Trump’s deportation force," said Landrieu, referencing a controversial program
that effectively deputizes local cops to enforce immigration laws.
March 21 also was the U.S. Conference of Mayors' Day of Immigration Action, during which mayors in many U.S. cities issued proclamations supporting local immigration policies and called for immigration reform. Landrieu, who serves as the conference's vice president (and is positioned to take over as president in June), celebrated immigrants' contributions to Louisiana's economy, as highlighted in a report from bipartisan group New American Economy.
Using information from 2014, the report found that "foreign-born households" made up 7.4 percent of the metro area's population (but make up nearly 10 percent of the labor force) and contributed $7.6 billion to its gross domestic product, $525 million in federal tax and $192 million in state and local tax.
"New Orleans is proud to be a welcoming city because we know that diversity is a strength,” Landrieu said in a new release for the report. “This report underscores the invaluable contributions immigrants continue to make to our city and our economy. I am proud to stand with mayors from across the country in calling for comprehensive immigration reform to help strengthen local economies and communities.”