Criminal Justice

New Orleans police still lack revised policy on dealing with immigration issues

The New Orleans Police Department has not met its year-end goal of finalizing a highly controversial policy on immigration violations, a department spokesman said this week.

The policy came under scrutiny this year because it appears to require police to cooperate with federal agencies in immigration enforcement efforts, which do not typically fall under the purview of local police departments. The Police Department was revealed to be part of a national enforcement effort that federal officials call a narrowly focused strategy targeting criminal aliens, but which one local immigrant advocacy group has alleged is based on racial profiling.

Policy 428 in the NOPD manual was released as part of a package of 200 policy revisions completed in June 2013, months after a federal consent decree was approved in U.S. District Court. The policy, in part, follows a provision from the federal consent decree enacted last year. The consent decree prohibits officers from taking police actions based on perceived or actual immigration status. However, the immigration policy goes on to say that police department employees are required to cooperate with federal and state officials on immigration enforcement.

Last summer, the federal monitor overseeing the consent decree released a quarterly report which briefly addressed the policy. The report said that a citizen group had alleged that “NOPD was inappropriately involving U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in their unrelated law-enforcement practices.”

NOPD spokesman Tyler Gamble said in September that the department had submitted a new set of immigration guidelines to the monitor for review and he anticipated that a reworked policy would be approved by the end of this year.

However, with the end of the year upon us, it appears that the situation is unchanged. NOPD spokesman Officer Frank Robertson told The Lens this week that the department is still waiting to hear from the monitor on its draft policy. Robertson declined to provide the draft policy to The Lens or describe how it differs from the one in effect. Because the consent decree prohibits members of the monitoring team to provide statements to the media without approval for the Department of Justice and the city, lead monitor Jonathan Aronie declined comment.

“The fact that the immigration policy has not moved sends the message that community voices and concerns don’t matter,” said Yihong “Julie” Mao, staff attorney for the New Orleans Workers Center for Racial Justice. “We hope that the city and NOPD will do more in the coming year to sit down and work with community members to create policies that truly protect and serve all.”

Mao’s group is particularly concerned with the part of the policy requiring the city to cooperate with federal immigration officials because of the NOPD’s involvement in a much-criticized immigration enforcement initiative.

Gamble confirmed in September that the Police Department was cooperating with federal agents in an enforcement effort called the Criminal Alien Removal Initiative, implemented in 2012 in New Orleans and elsewhere. The stated mission of the initiative is limited in scope. In a written statement from later that month, ICE spokesman Bryan Cox described it as a “national strategy” that “focuses ICE’s limited enforcement resources on identifying, arresting and removing at-large criminal aliens who pose a risk to community safety.”

“ICE does not conduct sweeps or raids to target undocumented immigrants indiscriminately,” Cox wrote.

But a 2013 report on the initiative by the Workers’ Center for Racial Justice claimed otherwise. The report said that local law enforcement agencies and federal agents were stopping and detaining large numbers of people without serious criminal records based purely on their apparent ethnicities.

“ICE squads are conducting indiscriminate raids at apartment complexes, grocery stores, laundromats, Bible study groups, and parks — often working with local law enforcement — based purely on racial profiling,” the report said. It called the initiative a “stop and frisk” program for immigration enforcement.

In a phone interview this week, Cox disputed the group’s characterization of the initiative, saying that the NOPD is not involved in regular immigration actions, which are enforced under federal civil code. He said local police enforce criminal law. In cases where the police arrest someone for a crime, and that person is believed to be in the country illegally, ICE can issue a “detainer request,” for him to be held until he can be brought into federal custody.

The city’s other major law enforcement agency, the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, announced last year that it would no longer honor the requests except in cases where the person has been charged with an extremely serious crime such as murder, aggravated rape or armed robbery.

Cox said ICE has not been consulted on the draft policy under review.

Help us report this story     Report an error    
The Lens' donors and partners may be mentioned or have a stake in the stories we cover.
About Charles Maldonado

Charles Maldonado covers the city of New Orleans and other local government bodies. He previously worked for Gambit, New Orleans’ alternative newsweekly, where he covered city hall, criminal justice and public health. Before moving to New Orleans, he covered state and local government for weekly papers in Nashville and Knoxville, Tenn.

  • Dave Francis

    WHO would place 5 million or more illegal aliens
    before our Veterans, Single Mothers, sick and disabled, senior citizens, homeless,
    the poor and not the ‘deadbeats’? That should be a matter of treason! We are
    $18.trillion dollars in the red, but the Obama Administration keeps spending.
    And now on illegal aliens will surely add to the national poverty level.

    AND that’s exactly what Obama has done. What’s even more disgusting is that he
    made up his own law via executive order to do it. The reigning king has created
    a Constitutional crisis. Obama is sticking it to middle class America and blatantly ignoring
    the separation of powers and overriding the will of the American people.

    CONGRESS and our law-making system mean nothing to him. If he can’t get his way
    he goes around our lawmakers. Once again, he has gone too far. Tell Congress
    right now you have had it. Tell every member of the House and Senate NO AMNESTY “STOP OBAMA’S AMNESTY PLANS FROM GOING THROUGH AT ALL
    COST!” It’s
    time to create a massive backlash. I wish I could tell you this
    could wait but it cannot.

    TEA PARTY needs you—America’s grassroots army—to
    keep going and continue the fight in Washington. WANT TO PURSUE EVERY SENATOR AND CONGRESSMAN and bomb these phone
    Numbers and Mailing Addresses of Members of Congress
    / or
    / The TEA PARTY members are urged to pick-up the phone. US Capitol Switchboard (202)
    224-3121; (the toll free
    number is 1- 866-220-0044)
    and join other conservatives who are committed to flood the phone lines on
    Capitol Hill with this simple message.’ IGNORE THE PEOPLE AT YOUR OWN PERIL.’ A
    very reliable website designed for those against illegal immigration is Americans
    for Legal Immigration PAC The most important site to witness is
    NumbersUSA, http://.www.
    /who want to block illegal immigration.

    future can be full of hope, if we reign in the Republican Establishment and the
    Democratic Liberal plots. Beginning with structuring a real double fence with
    all the electronic barriers, between us and Mexico at
    any cost? Amend the citizenship (anchor baby) law without one parent already a
    citizen. Readdress the Chain Migration system of sponsorship; Return the
    majority of federal agencies to the control of each state. Amend the Child Tax
    credit returns that 6 Billion dollars is being siphoned off by illegal alien.
    Abolish the corrupt IRS and introduce a fair and equitable taxation system with
    no loopholes for either political parties’ crony friends or special interests.
    Reduce the billions of dollars going to foreign countries in federal aid.
    Remove every welfare program and subsidy without proven means test. This list
    would be a good start:

    THESE are people who blatantly ignored our
    laws…trampled our borders…and then had to nerve to DEMAND they receive the
    same rights as Americans. Millions of illegal aliens are going to be given jobs
    that rightfully belong to Americans and veterans who desperately need them. Then
    there’s the free education, health care and welfare they’re sure Obama

    DURING an interview with National Public Radio
    (NPR), President Obama claimed that illegal aliens do not burden taxpayers and
    are not a drain on public resources.

    “If you’re concerned that somehow illegal
    immigrants are a drain on resources and forcing, you know, Americans to pay for
    services for these folks, well, every study shows that’s just not the case,”
    President Obama claimed. “Generally, these folks don’t use a lot of services,
    and my executive action specifically is crafted so that they’re not a drain on
    taxpayers; instead, they’re going to be paying taxes, and we can make sure that
    they are.”

    THIS, however, is not the case. According to a comprehensive
    study by the Center
    for Immigration Studies (CIS) in 2012, households headed by illegal aliens were
    more likely to be on a welfare program than those headed by U.S.-born Americans
    or legal immigrants.

    ILLEGAL aliens also are more likely to be
    uninsured, therefore, more dependent on relying on emergency rooms for
    healthcare. According to the CIS study, “14.6 percent of all uninsured persons
    in the United States are estimated to be
    illegal aliens or the young children of illegal immigrants.” And in states like
    Arizona, California, Nevada, and Texas, the impact was “much
    larger,” according to the report: “In Arizona, California, Nevada, and Texas, roughly one-fourth
    of the uninsured are illegal immigrants and their children. In New Jersey, Washington, and North Carolina roughly one-fifth of
    the uninsured are illegal immigrants.”

    ILLEGAL aliens are also a burden on taxpayers
    by negatively impacting wages, especially those of low-income Americans. As
    Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) has repeatedly pointed out, “Harvard professor
    George Borjas determined that high levels of immigration from 1980 through 2000
    resulted in a 7.4% wage reduction for workers without a high school diploma.
    Similarly, he found current immigration policy resulted in a net wage loss of
    $402 billion for workers competing directly with immigrant labor.”

    ACCORDING to immigration
    court records obtained by KPRC-NBC TV in Houston, TX, for their report, 92
    percent of those who crossed the border illegally have absconded from their
    court proceedings after release and joined the resident illegal population,
    where they are no longer a priority for enforcement under the new, expanded
    under the King Obama/Holder “prosecutorial discretion” policies.

    JESSICA Vaughan, the Center’s
    Director of Policy Studies, writes, “It’s not clear to me what is smart or
    effective about a massive and costly catch-and-release scheme that has resulted
    in the illegal resettlement of tens of thousands of illegal aliens, with
    taxpayers now picking up the tab for schooling, health care, housing, public
    safety, and other expenses, and which has only increased the incentives for
    more people to try to enter illegally.”

  • nickelndime

    “Dave Francis” has written. My solo MISSION is lonely, granted, but there is life out there and Dave Francis proves it. I was beginning to wonder if there is life on earth. My ASP (that’s my pet snake ASP) is on the floor, but I have picked him up. Just one question (and I am just getting warmed up), are “Single Mothers” worth more than “illegal aliens”? I must have missed the “federal” difference between the two. TO BE CONTINUED…12/31/2014 1:49 AM