A pair of bills in the Louisiana legislature which would outlaw ‘sanctuary cities’ across the state, which harbor illegal immigrants against the orders of federal immigration officials, are being strongly opposed by the local Catholic Church.
HB 151 by Rep. Valerie Hodges would prohibit the creation of sanctuary cities. That legislation flew of committee and will go before a full House vote now. And a separate bill HB 453 by Rep. Jay Morris would allow for citizens to file a writ of mandamus to force sanctuary cities to comply with the federal government, and if one were filed the sanctuary city can’t collect any money from the state until it complies with the mandamus writ.
Both pieces of legislation were opposed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which the Archdiocese of New Orleans is a part of.
New Orleans, under the helm of Mayor Mitch Landrieu, has been transformed into a sanctuary city for illegal immigrants.
The city mandates that no New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) officers engage in aiding federal immigration officials to get arrested or charged illegal immigrants deported back to their home countries.
“Unless there is a direct threat to public safety, officers will no longer engage in the enforcement of federal immigration policy without a warrant or court order,” that New Orleans policy details. “This new measure ensures that undocumented immigrants can interact with the local police force without fear of deportation.”
Not only has the Catholic Bishops association come out against the legislation to end sanctuary cities, but a representative at the Jesuit Research Institute, which is part of Loyola University, testified before the House Judiciary Committee, advocating that sanctuary cities actually reduce crime.
“It promotes public safety and it builds on the trust that community members need to have with local law enforcement,” Susan Weishar with the institute said. Weishar also said that illegal immigrants were necessary in order to fill labor shortages, but never addressed how an illegal immigrant should be handled if they committed a crime.
The stark opposition against ending sanctuary cities in the state by local Catholic officials means the church would not only like to see New Orleans remain a sanctuary city, but also keep Lafayette Parish a sanctuary city as well.