BATON ROUGE- Attorney General Jeff Landry got behind a bill that would end “sanctuary cities” for illegal immigrants.
The bill by Rep. Valarie Hodges, a Denham Springs Republican, targets so-called "sanctuary cities" - jurisdictions that don't enforce immigration law without court order.
Landry fears that if local law enforcement doesn’t seek out illegal immigrants, it will lead to more crime.
“We have a compelling interest to make sure that our citizens are kept safe, and we believe these policies impact the ability of law enforcement to protect our communities,” Landry said.
Opponents of the bill say that illegal immigrants will be less likely to report crimes if they are afraid of being deported.
“Many times we are witnesses to crimes that happen on the street, but because of a fear of the police, if there's a fear someone will ask you your immigration status because you've been a victim or a witness to a crime, no one is going to want to go to the police, and because of that there will be crimes that are unresolved,” New Orleans resident Santos Alvarado said.
Currently Lafayette and New Orleans are the only cities in the state that are classified as immigrant “sanctuaries.”
Officers in the two cities say that seeking out illegal immigrant is the federal government’s job, while theirs is to fight crime.
“If a police officer calls in on a stop and there is an outstanding criminal warrant it will be enforced,” Tim Averill of the New Orleans Police Department said.