NEW ORLEANS -- A day after Mayor Mitch Landrieu made his case to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions that New Orleans is not a so-called “sanctuary city,” the Justice Department sent a letter to City Hall agreeing with that claim.
The letter, written by Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Alan Hanson, said that the DOJ “has found no evidence that New Orleans is currently out of compliance with section 1373” and seemingly put an end to the long-simmering dispute between the city and feds about that point.
The section of federal law in dispute requires local law enforcement to cooperate with federal immigration agents.
“We are pleased that the attorney general and Sen. (John) Kennedy have come around to agreeing with the point we have made all along -- New Orleans is not a ‘sanctuary city’ and the NOPD’s policies have maintained consistent compliance with 8 U.S.C. § 1373,” Landrieu said in a prepared statement.
In a letter last month, the DOJ had threatened to pull millions of dollars in criminal-justice grants from the NOPD if the city could not prove it was in compliance with the law.
However, there were two requests that Sessions made -- and that Kennedy said he hoped Landrieu would agree to -- that appear to apply to the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, which is run independent of the city: That federal immigration agents are notified at least 48 hours in advance of the release of any immigrants in the country illegally and allowing agents to interview inmates while in custody.
A Sheriff’s Office spokesman said Friday afternoon he was checking to see if the DOJ and OPSO had been in touch.
Sheriff Marlin Gusman was not included in Thursday’s discussion among Landrieu, Sessions and Kennedy, who set up the meeting.
As for the NOPD, the DOJ said it will keep an eye on the department to make sure its policies continue to allow cooperation with immigration officials.
“Compliance with section 1373 is an ongoing requirement that the Department will continue to monitor,” Hanson, the deputy assistant attorney general wrote.”