Earlier this week, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions released a memo that redefined noncompliant sanctuary cities. Earlier this year, the Trump administration warned several cities that if they did not comply with January’s immigration executive order, city governments can face reduction of federal funding.
Released this past Monday, a memo from Sessions narrowed the definition of noncompliant sanctuary jurisdictions as cities that “willfully refuse to comply” with the federal government. Sessions also clarified the consequences of noncompliance, stating cities may lose federal grants only from the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland security.
“It appears that the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security heard the call from mayors and police chiefs—that our local police should be focused on fighting violent crime and building trust with the communities they serve,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in an official release.
"Under the definition issued by DOJ, New Orleans is not and has never been a sanctuary city,” he added.
Sessions’s memo comes nearly a month after the Department of Justice deemed nine U.S. cities as noncompliant. The Department of Justice released letters to these cities days before Sessions met with city leaders at the U.S. Conference of Mayors, where several city leaders urged for more clarity on the definition of a sanctuary city.
Mayor Landrieu certified New Orleans as being fully compliant with President Trump’s executive order at the end of April.
Other cities warned by the Department of Justice this past April include Sacramento, California; Chicago; Philadelphia; Las Vegas; Miami; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and New York.
Signed in the beginning of 2017, President Trump’s original executive order stated the federal government would withhold all federal funding to cities that refused to actively search, detain, and deport undocumented immigrants.
Despite New Orleans new sanctuary status, Landrieu remains concerned about the Trump administration’s 2018 fiscal year budget. In the new budget, the administration will increase its funding to recruit state and local police for enforcing immigration laws.
“State and local police are the tip of the spear in the fight to keep our streets safe,” Landrieu said. “Rather than attacking cities and law enforcement, and demonizing immigrants, now is the time for Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform and invest in police and other resources mayors need to keep our streets safe.”
- Justice Department Narrows Scope Of 'Sanctuary Cities' Executive Order [NPR]
- Executive Order: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States [White House]
- ‘Sanctuary Cities’ Get a Legal Definition [Route 50]
- Opinion of Counsel Compliance [City of New Orleans]
- Trump threatens sanctuary cities, New Orleans responds [Curbed NOLA]