HITHER AND YON: If Jeff Sessions Gets Confirmed, Mitch Landrieu Might Get Screwed

Here’s a Washington Times article that the city fathers in New Orleans won’t be too thrilled about…

Sen. Jeff Sessions is on record saying so-called “sanctuary cities” that protect illegal immigrants should be prosecuted. He himself may get that chance next year.

Mr. Sessions is president-elect Donald Trump’s pick to be the next attorney general, and if he’s confirmed, he will mark a 180-degree turn from the Obama administration on a host of issues, but nowhere more so than on immigration, where he’s been the Senate’s leading crackdown proponent.

From his first day in office, Mr. Sessions will have the power to strip some federal funding from sanctuary cities, thanks to rulings this year by the Justice Department’s inspector general, who said federal law requires localities to cooperate with immigration agents — and who provided an initial list of a handful of the worst offenders.

“The sanctuary cities thing is huge. I think most jurisdictions are going to fold like a cheap suit,” said Rosemary Jenks, government relations manager at NumbersUSA, which lobbies for stricter immigration laws.

Some sanctuary cities have already said they’ll resist any effort to change their behavior. They are being prodded by immigrant rights advocates who are calling on Senate Democrats to deny Mr. Sessions the chance to be attorney general, saying he represents a massive step backward for the Justice Department.

“The agency would become the dispenser of terror and racial intolerance should Jeff Sessions be confirmed,” said Brent Wilkes, executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens.

There aren’t enough Senate Democrats to deny Sessions his confirmation, and Joe Manchin, who is still at this point a Democrat though may well not be one too much longer, has already said Sessions has his vote.

Mitch Landrieu, New Orleans’ mayor, is one of the unwise Democrats running sanctuary cities. Landrieu isn’t necessarily one of the Rahm Emanuel Sanctuary Or Die crowd, but he and Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff Marlin Gusman are without a doubt running a sanctuary operation. The Times-Picayune summed up what New Orleans does in an article Friday

The definition of a sanctuary city is nebulous, but it’s often used to describe various public policies perceived to be welcoming to immigrants living in the country illegally.

Many city leaders embrace the term. But unlike mayors of New York, Chicago, Seattle, Denver, San Francisco, Los Angeles and others, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu avoids the label “sanctuary city” to describe New Orleans. He relies on the unique nuances of the city’s legal situation to bolster his reasoning for doing so.

The police department and the city jail are under separate federal consent decrees, agreements overseen by a judge that require each agency to improve their operations to meet constitutional standards.

Under those agreements, Landrieu and Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman implemented practices that their critics equate to “sanctuary city policies.”

Gusman declared jail officials would no longer detain arrested suspects thought to be in the country illegally solely at the request of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, or ICE. With a federal judge’s approval, that change was added to the jail’s consent decree in 2013.

Working with immigration rights groups, Landrieu’s administration crafted changes to the NOPD’s consent decree that counsels officers not to ask the immigration status of victims or witnesses of crimes, not to stop people solely because they are presumed to be in the country illegally, nor to cooperate with ICE when that agency relies on civil warrants to conduct sweeps for undocumented immigrants.

The NOPD policy does not prevent officers from helping ICE agents on criminal raids that target undocumented immigrants, nor does it stop officers from sharing information with ICE. Landrieu has repeatedly highlighted those exceptions to argue that New Orleans is not a sanctuary city.

Landrieu ran the new policy by ICE last year and said he received no objections before implementing it in February. An attorney for the Justice Department testified to Congress in September that the policy does not run afoul of federal immigration law, nor did it prevent ICE and city police from sharing information.

But according to Louisiana Senator David Vitter, who will be happily home in Metairie by the time Sessions’ nomination is debated, none of the city’s nuance is going to have much value when the new sheriff rides in at DOJ…

“The notion that any of their sanctuary city policies is constitutionally protected is ridiculous,” Vitter said.

Vitter said he hoped the president-elect would turn to a sanctuary city ban he tried to pass last year as a template. Vitter’s bill would have blocked federal funding from three grant programs —  the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, Community Oriented Policing Services, Community Development Block Grants — to cities that restrict sharing information with ICE or do not comply with requests that suspected undocumented immigrants who were arrested be further detained. The bill died in the Senate in October on a procedural vote.

Vitter said he chose those grant programs as starting points but wasn’t wedded to them. Others could be added or substituted, he said.

“The point is you clearly need to put something of consequence in the law,” he said.

Essentially, what’s coming is Sessions will begin ratcheting up demands on cities like New Orleans to come into full compliance or the money will dry up very quickly.

And Landrieu is going to respond to that by screaming that the Justice Department is taking all of the mother’s milk away from his law enforcement. At that point it’s going to become pretty interesting to see if anybody will bother to ask him why it’s DOJ’s fault he’s not complying with their requirements in order to qualify for the grant money.

After all, it will be up to New Orleans to follow the federal law if they want the federal dollars – at minimum, not to mention what other consequences might follow. If they choose not to do that, whose fault will that be?

There isn’t a timeline on the federal investigation into the Alton Sterling shooting yet. But it seems like there is some expectation of what’s going to happen when the results are released.

And you can draw the conclusion for yourself as to what the results might be

Baton Rouge and Louisiana State Police officials have been in talks about how to respond to potential protests following the U.S. Department of Justice’s release of its investigation into the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling by a Baton Rouge policeman in July.

Speaking after a meeting with Baton Rouge community activists and leaders hosted by Gov. John Bel Edwards at the state Capitol Monday, Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr. and State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson said they anticipate advanced notice of the federal announcement.

But just when federal investigators will conclude their probe remains unclear. Federal officials have steadfastly refused to comment on the investigation into the shooting, and state and local officials — including the governor — said Monday they haven’t been briefed on the federal review or its timeline.

One doesn’t get the impression it’s expected they’ll be burning cop cars down Highland Road or off Jones Creek, right? Particularly given this…

Several community activists and political organizers who attended the meeting criticized of the Justice Department’s silence on the investigation.

“They haven’t had any transparency as far as I’m concerned,” said Cleve Dunn Jr., who repeated previous calls for the federal agency to release keys pieces of evidence in the July 5 shooting, including the original 911 call and surveillance footage from the North Foster Drive convenience store where Sterling was shot.

That the investigation has gone this long has become a bit problematic for some of the Powers That Be. After all, Hillary Clinton was supposed to win the presidential election, and if she had the timing of the probe’s conclusion and outcome wouldn’t have mattered. But now, you have the clock ticking on U.S. Attorney Walt Green, who is unlikely to last very far into a Trump Administration, so Green could finish his time in office without finishing this job – and his successor might or might not have a different result to offer.

And of course should things work out in such a way that a Republican appointee as U.S. Attorney gets to announce that the Sterling shooting was justified and no charges ought to be filed against the police officers involved, every Democrat in Louisiana would likely be gleeful – because at that point they’re not the target of the protesters who follow. It’ll be that Donald Trump let the cops get away with killing Sterling in cold blood and more proof of racism.

You can bet your bottom dollar that John Bel Edwards and all of the Democrat state legislators in the Baton Rouge area would love that.

Because if the announcement exonerating those cops were to come from Green before Trump’s inauguration, nobody on the D side gets any political advantage out of it at all. And what’s a good police shooting for if not getting political advantage?

That doesn’t even count the effect something like this might have on the Baton Rouge mayor’s race, the runoff for which comes on Dec. 10. You really wouldn’t expect an announcement to come before that date, regardless of what the outcome of the investigation is, because of the explosive effect on the race it could have (and frankly, we can’t even predict how and who it would help).

Jeff Sadow’s column at the Advocate yesterday contained an interesting take on the TOPS program and how some universities in Louisiana are doing what they need to do to avoid hitting their TOPS students in the pocketbook…

The Legislature arranged to backload the impact so that the biggest hit would come for spring terms. That day of reckoning draws nigh, but some university administrators responded creatively and admirably. President John Nicklow at the University of New Orleans required more students to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, noting that unused federal money lying fallow could be accessed by UNO for its students. That strategy didn’t hurt UNO’s operational budget.

President Jim Henderson of Northwestern State University (soon to head the University of Louisiana System) budgeted wisely and used donations to cover the shortfall. As a result of these initiatives, no TOPS student at either school will owe any tuition for the spring.

Hopefully, other state institutions can follow similar strategies. That won’t solve the gap for all of them — because Louisiana State University has about half its undergraduates utilizing TOPS, this couldn’t plug its entire hole — but if all the universities tried hard, they could make many students financially whole for the second half the academic year.

But this welcome relief destroyed the narrative of the original TOPS hostage-taker, Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards, who used threats about TOPS to bleed more taxes out of the people. Even after the Legislature obliged him to the tune of $1.6 billion, this would not pay fully for all of his spending desires. It ultimately forced him to swallow TOPS cuts. Yet, even with these reductions, the budget was inflated 9 percent over last year’s, leading Edwards to blame the program’s partial funding on the Republican-led Legislature’s refusal to increase taxes even more.

Even as TOPS now has come closer to full funding without the additional bloodletting that Edwards demanded, he doubled down on his earlier critique of frontloading TOPS dollars to students, calling that a misleading gimmick. This stood in stark contrast to remarks made by Commissioner of Higher Education Joseph Rallo, who agreed with legislative leaders that the tactic proved helpful in allowing families — and schools — extra time to try to find additional resources for spring term tuition.

What nobody seems to get in Louisiana is the higher-education bubble is bursting, and along with it, the money to fund schools kids don’t want to attend is drying up.

UNO and Northwestern State are beginning to figure this out, since they’ve spent a good while dealing with the effects of low attendance coupled with diminishing state funding. They’re looking around for ways to get funding for their students that don’t involve more tuition.

LSU, of course, is doing very little of that. LSU, we assume, figures it doesn’t really have to; its students generally come from a little more money and therefore can absorb the financial hit for the spring semester.

That’s going to involve the loss of attendance at LSU, though. And at some point the leadership on that campus is going to have to recognize the importance and benefits of a stronger business model geared for the end of the higher ed bubble.

And now, Today’s Last Thing. We don’t have a Louisiana-themed Today’s Last Thing, unfortunately, but we have something a little better.

It’s Nigel Farage, rapping like Eminem. Call him Eminigel.

Interested in more news from Louisiana? We've got you covered! See More Louisiana News
Previous Article
Next Article
Join the Conversation - Download the Speakeasy App.

Trending on The Hayride