New Orleans Becomes Newest Sanctuary City for Immigrants

March 3, 2016

New Orleans police will no longer cooperate with federal immigration enforcement, a momentous change likely to elicit denunciations from opponents of such "sanctuary city" policies.

The new regulations mark a sharp departure for a department that until recently actively participated in immigration sweeps and detained people suspected of being in the country illegally.

The new policy, which went into effect Sunday (Feb. 28), forbids officers from so much as inquiring into an individual's immigration status.

That provision and others stem in part from court-supervised reform agenda, the result of lawsuits alleging unconstitutional policing practices. Despite that consent decree, the NOPD had been slow to formally adopt a "bias-free policing" policy.

The Congress of Day Laborers, a New Orleans immigration rights group, has been pushing the NOPD to overhaul its immigration policy for two years. The group has documented several cases of what it said was discriminatory policing, including the investigation of residents' immigration status during routine interactions, such as traffic stops.