WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) sent a letter to New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu this morning urging the mayor to comply with federal immigration law.
“On March 27, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he was urging all states and local jurisdictions to comply with federal immigration laws,” said Sen. Kennedy. “Unless changes are made, the city of New Orleans could be ineligible for important Department of Justice grants. These grants support law enforcement and justice programs that the people of New Orleans rely on and sorely need, especially in light of the rampant crime in our city. I urge Mayor Landrieu to take immediate steps to comply.”
Text of the letter:
March 30, 2017
The Honorable Mitchell J. Landrieu
Mayor of New Orleans
1300 Perdido Street
New Orleans, Louisiana 70112
VIA EMAIL, FACSIMILE, AND U.S. MAIL
Dear Mayor Landrieu:
On March 27, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he was urging all states and local jurisdictions to comply with all federal laws, including 8 U.S.C. Section 1373. Attorney General Sessions also said he will require state and local jurisdictions seeking or applying for Department of Justice grants to certify compliance with Section 1373 as a condition for receiving them. Section 1373, as you know, prohibits state and local policies that restrict communication to the federal government about any individual's immigration status. It prohibits so-called “sanctuary cities.” Additionally, Attorney General Sessions has previously criticized cities that refuse to honor immigration detainer requests.
The Attorney General's announcement follows President Trump's Executive Order, titled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.” This order stated that jurisdictions “that willfully refuse to comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373 (sanctuary jurisdictions) are not eligible to receive Federal grants, except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes by the Attorney General or the Secretary [of Homeland Security].”
The City of New Orleans is a sanctuary jurisdiction and is not in compliance with Section 1373. On February 28, 2016, the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) issued a policy that prohibits police from disclosing information on immigration status to federal officials, except in certain situations. The Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General has noted that New Orleans policy “presents concerns” and “unless the understanding of NOPD's employees is that they are not prohibited or restricted from sharing immigration status information with ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement], the policy would be inconsistent with Section 1373.” Unless changes are made, the City of New Orleans could be ineligible for important Department of Justice grants.
These grants are substantial. In Fiscal Year 2016, the Office of Justice Programs in the Department of Justice made nearly 3,000 grants, totaling $3.9 billion to states, counties, cities, and other local governments. Closer to home, Orleans Parish received $2.9 million in Department of Justice grants during Fiscal Year 2016 and $9.4 million in Fiscal Year 2015. These grants support law enforcement and justice programs that the people of New Orleans rely on and sorely need, especially in light of the rampant crime in our city. Justice Department grants to our city included grants for comprehensive law enforcement strategies, programs for justice and mental health, an anti-human trafficking task force, a sexual assault kit initiative, and a youth violence prevention team. Retaining the current policies of the New Orleans Police Department about reporting immigration status and any other refusal by city officials to cooperate in enforcing federal immigration law puts future funding at risk. Additionally, Attorney General Sessions also mentioned the possibility of “clawing back” grant monies that have already been awarded.
You have stated publically that the New Orleans Police Department “will not be coerced into joining Trump's deportation army.” I respect your personal feelings on illegal immigration but you must comply with federal law unless Congress sees fit to change that law.
Please take immediate steps to comply with federal immigration laws, including Section 1373, and preserve this important funding that improves the lives of citizens of New Orleans and keeps them safe.