Yesterday, I was glad that I could help when WWL-TV and reporter Kristin Pierce asked me to comment for a story they were doing on the sad story of Irwin Gomez-Colon, an undocumented immigrant who is the suspect for the murder of a woman in Terrytown Monday. He was charged with similar crimes in 2015, and Pierce's piece explains that he wasn't turned over for deportation at the time because at the time, such transfers were done once someone was convicted, and Gomez-Colon wasn't. As a result of one of President Trump's executive orders, he would be deported today, whether he was guilty or not.
Pierce's story indirectly questions New Orleans' stance as a "Sanctuary City." The details of the crime are disturbing, so it's tempting to call for change that prevent actions like it from happening again. Actions like Trump's executive order that make it easier to deport undocumented immigrants accused of violent crimes also make it possible to deport those accused of marijuana possession--an action that's legal in some states but illegal federally.
The Trump Adminstration's efforts to stop the Sanctuary City movement hit a snag when U.S. District Judge William Orrick, in San Francisco temporarily stopped the government from withholding federal funds from cities that limit compliance with U.S. Customs' enforcement efforts. He ruled that the president didn't have the authority to add new conditions to federal spending.
New Orleans' Mayor Mitch Landrieu was one of a number of mayors who recently spoke with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to better understand the Trump Administration's definition of "Sanctuary City"--a term that means different things to different communities. According to The New Orleans Advocate:
New Orleans’ policy specifically requires compliance with that federal law, and Landrieu responded that the city had sent a letter certifying that to the Justice Department. The Landrieu administration has repeatedly denied that New Orleans is a sanctuary city.
Landrieu said the various local officials also got reassurances from the Department of Homeland Security at a meeting Monday that local law enforcement would not be forced to participate in civil deportation efforts and that raids would not be conducted in “sensitive areas” such as schools and churches.
“I think the mayors learned a lot yesterday and today how if we narrow these issues and get clarity, we can get on the same page,” Landrieu said. He added that “none of this would be necessary if Congress and the president were to enact comprehensive immigration reform, which is long overdue.”
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