La. lawmakers defer sanctuary city bill for 2016 session

La. lawmakers defer sanctuary city bill for 2016 session

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A bill aimed at banning safe havens for undocumented immigrants is effectively dead at the State Capitol for this session.

In a split vote, a Senate committee stalled HB 1148, sponsored by Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Denham Springs, Tuesday. The vote to defer the so-called sanctuary cities bill crossed party lines, with a Democrat and Republican voting to kill the measure.

By definition, "sanctuary cities" do not enforce federal immigration law without a court order. Under the bill, those jurisdictions would lose their ability to get bond money from the state for big construction projects.

When the bill appeared in the House earlier this session, the newly-minted Attorney General Jeff Landry labeled both Orleans and Lafayette parishes as safe-havens for illegal immigrants.

New Orleans, in particular, has fallen under scrutiny due to a policy there preventing members of the New Orleans Police Department from asking individuals about their immigration status. That rule was implemented to bring the police force in line with a federally-mandated consent decree, which was ordered by a court following lawsuits about potentially unconstitutional police practices by the NOPD.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand, who is not from one of those sanctuary cities, criticized the bill saying those safe havens should be dealt with by the federal government, not at the state level.

"Don't come down here with some overarching bulls***, Republican philosophy from Washington, DC - and I'm a Republican - and I've deported more people per capital than any other county in this country and tell me how to do my business when last year I had the lowest crime rate in this parish since 1974," Normand said.

"What we were talking about is the rule of law and making our cities safer for American citizens, not people who are here illegally. Our primary concern should be our citizens of the United States," Hodges said.

The bill already made it successfully through the House. On the Senate side, the bill faced criticism for giving the attorney general the power to label sanctuary cities.

Even an amendment, which was introduced by Sen. Jay Luneau, D-Alexandria, that would give that power to the courts was not enough to gain passage.

Hodges said she intends to bring the bill back again next year.

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