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Legislature inches closer to banning sanctuary cities

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(The Center Square) – Legislation banning sanctuary cities in Louisiana was passed 73-26 in the House of Representatives on Monday.

Senate Bill 208 would require state and local law enforcement agencies to cooperate with federal immigration authorities and support the enforcement of immigration law.

The proposal is headed on Tuesday to the Senate for concurrence. If the Senate approves the amended bill, Gov. Jeff Landry is expected to sign it into law.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Blake Miguez, R-New Iberia, said in a post on X, “Thank you to the LA House of Representatives for voting today, #SB208, to prohibit local municipalities from adopting sanctuary city policies. Louisiana should be known as a law and order state, not a sanctuary for law breakers and the same is true for our cities.”

In House debate, Rep. Jacob Landry, R-Erath, told the chamber that public safety is government’s first responsibility and that SB208 “ensures that every community in Louisiana is a sanctuary for the rule of law, not a sanctuary for those who break the law.”

Rep. Matthew Willard, D-New Orleans, offered an unsuccessful amendment that would have required any governmental entity to engage in any activity that would go against a federal consent decree. The city of New Orleans, its Police Department and its jail are under a consent decree from the U.S. Department of Justice related to civil rights and other misconduct dating back to 2012.

Eight of 10 House members from the Crescent City voted against the measure.

According to the Center for Immigration Studies, New Orleans is the state’s only municipality with a sanctuary city policy. These policies ban local law enforcement from helping enforce federal immigration law or even asking the immigration status of anyone.

In 2017, then-New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu told the U.S. Department of Justice that New Orleans wasn’t a sanctuary city after the DOJ had threatened to withhold federal law enforcement grants from the city.

According to the city’s code of ordinances, “The city shall not inquire or collect data regarding any person’s immigration status, including place of birth, except in the event of an active federal criminal investigation or when otherwise necessary to relay complaints on behalf of such person; determine eligibility for city employment; determine eligibility for a public benefit or program; or connect such person to supportive services.”

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