NEW ORLEANS – Mayor Mitch Landrieu was one of nine recipients of letters from the Justice Department asking to prove that they are cooperating with federal immigration authorities or risk losing law-enforcement grant money.
Landrieu responded late Friday evening with a sharp rebuttal: "If anybody in the Trump administration would actually do some research before firing off letters, they would see that the City of New Orleans has already provided the Department of Justice documentation that shows we are in compliance with federal immigration laws. "
The letters went to so-called “sanctuary cities” the DOJ’s inspector general has previously said have rules that limit information available to U.S. immigration officials.
New Orleans was among the 100 communities that “limit cooperation” with the federal government, according to a list the Trump administration put out in March. The city was accused of failing to comply with a request from Immigration and Customs Enforcement to detain undocumented immigrants for possible deportation.
The Justice Department said those who received letters have until June 30 to "comply with this grant condition and to submit all documentation."
Landrieu said the city has previously proven it complies with federal laws and will send to the Justice Department all documents it requested.
“But the NOPD will not be a part of President Trump’s civil deportation force no matter how many times they ask,” he continued.
State Attorney General Jeff Landry issued a statement that once again called upon Landrieu and the city of New Orleans to stop putting "crucial funding" at risk.
"By continuing to push his radical agenda, the mayor is going to lose pivotal funds that pay for police officers - placing an even heavier burden on the taxpayers of Louisiana through the supplemental services of the State Police," Landry said.
Landrieu, however, said the Justice Department, federal consent decree monitor and federal judge overseeing the consent decree approved the city’s immigration policy.
“Going back to September of 2015, officials at the Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) were consulted in the drafting of NOPD’s immigration policy. This agency, which is responsible for enforcing federal immigration laws, never expressed any concern with the NOPD’s policy.
U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-Louisiana) wrote to Landrieu last month and asked him to comply with the DOJ’s requests.
"They're going to take our money. We've gotten as much as $10 million a year in grants from the Department of Justice to help us combat the (serious) crime problem we have in New Orleans," Kennedy wrote in the letter.
The Justice Department gives out $2.2 billion every year to help fund crime-fighting efforts, according to The Los Angeles Times.
The grant money mentioned in Friday’s letter to Landrieu is for a Byrne JAG grant.
That money go toward law enforcement, prosecution and court programs, according to the Justice Department. It wasn’t immediately clear what the city uses the funds for.
Letters were also sent to officials in Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Miami, Milwaukee and Cook County, Illinois, and at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
"Our law enforcement relies on this money. We are under resourced," Laila Hlass, Professor of Practice at Tulane Law School said.
Hlass said if the Justice Department strips New Orleans of their funding, the Landrieu administration could sue.
"Some cities have sued. Calling into question the legality of the sanctuary executive order because it is questionable whether it's legal. They're threatening policies that are certainly going to make us less safe,"Hlass said.
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