New policy ends NOPD immigration enforcement
Robert McClendon of The Times-Picayune reports that as of Sunday, February 28, New Orleans police will no longer cooperate with federal immigration enforcement. The new regulations mark a departure from a department that, until recently, actively participated in immigration sweeps and detained people suspected of being in the country illegally (NOLA.com). NOPD officers are now forbidden from even inquiring into an individual’s immigration status.
The new measures taken by the city are the culmination of work done by council members such as LaToya Cantrell, who has previously proposed resolutions that call for immigrant-friendly policy changes, such as multilingual signage and more translators in City Hall (NOLA.com). In addition, The Congress of Day Laborers, a New Orleans immigration rights group, has been pushing the NOPD to overhaul its immigration policy for two years (NOLA.com).
“Our communities fought for this policy, and we’re celebrating it today,” said Santos Alvarado, a member of the Congress of Day Laborers. “It’s going to make all our communities safer by making police more accountable. This is a model policy we will be fighting for other parishes to adopt across Louisiana” (NOLA.com).
Tyler Gamble, a spokesman for the NOPD, said the new policy is the result of long negotiations with federal authorities: “The Department of Justice, the federal consent decree monitor and the federal judge overseeing the consent decree have approved the revised policy” (NOLA.com).
The immigrant community is celebrating the new policy as a resolution that will provide New Orleans with safer communities, due to evidence that underneath previous immigration policies, immigrants were unlikely to report crimes out of fear of being questioned about their legal status as U.S. citizens. The new policy bans NOPD from questioning citizens about their immigration status and extends it to cover anyone officers come into contact with, including potential suspects. Should officers learn that someone is in the country illegally, they are forbidden from sharing that information except under court order (NOLA.com).
The new rules also restrict cooperation with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement outside criminal investigations, as well as explicitly forbid deportation raids that have been conducted at grocery stores, laundromats, and parks under previous policies (NOLA.com).
Some officials and citizens have opposed the changes. Senator David Vitter attempted to penalize cities that don’t facilitate immigration enforcement, but Democrats blocked his bill. Opponents of the new policy claim that New Orleans now implements the same immigration rules that have made San Francisco a dangerous “sanctuary city,” citing the slaying of a woman by an undocumented immigrant in the Bay Area. But the NOPD policy includes almost all of the provisions sought by immigration advocates, making New Orleans one of the most liberal cities in the country regarding immigration enforcement (NOLA.com).
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