DOJ and New Orleans officials spar over 'sanctuary' immigration policy

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions

In a letter to Landrieu, the acting assistant attorney general threatened a pot of federal grant funding for crime fighting in the city and gave the city a "last chance" to prove the Police Department is in compliance with a section of federal law that requires local governments and police to provide information to federal immigration enforcement agents.

"State and local law enforcement agencies are not required to engage in the enforcement of federal immigration law", Malloy wrote to police chiefs earlier this year. "This is not their money, this is taxpayers' money", said Kenney.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is giving the city a warning that can lead to sudden federal withdrawal of funds to sanctuary cities.

The Trump administration has said enforcing immigration law is vital to national security and crime reduction.

In a October 11 letter to Landrieu, the Department of Justice threatened a grant award because of an NOPD practice that "appears to bar New Orleans officers from requesting information regarding immigration status from federal immigration officers".

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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.

"Chicago will not be blackmailed into changing our values, and we are and will remain a welcoming city", Mayor Rahm Emanuel said at a press conference announcing that suit.

Landrieu added in his letter that the DOJ failed to note that the NOPD's operation manual states that officers are to follow the federal immigration statute, and that "the policy does not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, [ICE] information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual".

But New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu fired back, arguing - as he has on several previous occasions - that the city is in full compliance with federal law, while vowing that "the NOPD will not be the federal government's deportation force". Additionally, the Justice Department said subsequent investigations found Miami-Dade County, Fla., and Clark County, Nev., where Las Vegas is located, were already in accordance with federal immigration law, though previously they had been listed otherwise. 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 Justice Department is appealing the ruling, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The letter is the latest salvo in a protracted battle between the Trump administration, with its hardline immigration policies, and city officials, who have insisted their sanctuary policies on undocumented immigrants make the city safer and do not break the law.

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