City officials discuss New Orleans compliance on federal immigration law

City officials discuss New Orleans compliance on federal immigration law

City officials discuss New Orleans compliance on federal immigration law

The U.S. Justice Department contends the city of Chicago and Cook County violated federal immigration laws when they were awarded public safety grants previous year.

The U.S. Department of Justice, in separate letters to Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle penned Wednesday, highlights several active policies created to shield undocumented immigrants from being unduly targeted by law enforcement entities.

New Orleans, New York and Philadelphia join Chicago and Cook County in remaining out of compliance, the Justice Department said.

City and county officials did not immediately say how they would respond to the letters.

Two other jurisdictions, the state of CT and Milwaukee County, Wis., heeded Justice Department warnings and reversed policies meant to shield undocumented immigrants from possible deportation.

The mayor's statement comes as President Donald Trump has often criticized cities like New Orleans, in which local police don't actively pursue enforcement of immigration laws. Critics have dubbed such places "sanctuary cities".

The Justice Department is calling it a "last chance" for local governments to demonstrate they are in compliance.

Since the inauguration and throughout the year, the City of Chicago has been at odds with the Trump Administration.

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"Jurisdictions that adopt so-called "sanctuary policies" also adopt the view that the protection of criminal aliens is more important than the protection of law-abiding citizens and of the rule of law", Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.

"As we have maintained for years, the Department of Justice has confirmed that we are in full compliance with 8 U.S.C. § 1373", Mayor Mitch Landrieu said.

"We will build relationships between the NOPD and all community members", Landrieu wrote. "The NOPD will continue to focus on the arrest and conviction of violent criminals, regardless of their immigration status".

Then, under President Barack Obama, the DOJ told city officials that in order to keep the policing grant, they would have to certify they were complying with a federal law that bars cities from restricting communication with Immigration and Customs Enforcement about the immigration status of people encountered by police or other municipal agencies.

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 pair have threatened to cut off federal funding to the cities - which include Hartford and New Haven - but so far that hasn't happened.

In addition, Philadelphia is suing over other new requirements for policing grants that Sessions imposed on cities in July, aimed at punishing sanctuary cities. The DOJ letter suggests New Orleans' failure to meet its measure of compliance could put the city at risk for losing federal grant funding.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions argued it was wrong to apply an order nationally in a case brought by Chicago and that it should only apply to that city.

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