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Tuesday, September 27, 2016


September 27, 2016

Before the House Judiciary Committee, Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee, testimony and inquiry commenced under the Sub-Committee Chairman, Trey Gowdy (R-SC).  Today's hearing was scheduled after correspondence was sent to the Department of Justice by both Sub-Committee Chair Mr. Gowdy, and Full Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA):

“It is outrageous that the Justice Department would seek a consent decree with the New Orleans Police Department to actually inhibit the ability of the federal government to enforce federal law.  By hindering federal immigration officers’ ability to apprehend criminal aliens, the Justice Department consciously disregards the safety and security of the American public by enabling the release of these criminals back into our communities to commit more crimes.”  

“Next week, the Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee will examine DOJ’s role in coercing the New Orleans Police Department to adopt dangerous sanctuary policies and will seek answers from the Department. We look forward to hearing their explanation as to why they would encourage a local jurisdiction to violate federal law.”

The hearing served to investigate potential violations of Title 8 U.S. Code § 1373 - Communication between government agencies and the Immigration and Naturalization Service

(a) In general
Notwithstanding any other provision of Federal, State, or local law, a Federal, State, or local government entity or official may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual.
(b) Additional authority of government entitiesNotwithstanding any other provision of Federal, State, or local law, no person or agency may prohibit, or in any way restrict, a Federal, State, or local government entity from doing any of the following with respect to information regarding the immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual:
(1) Sending such information to, or requesting or receiving such information from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
(2) Maintaining such information.
(3) Exchanging such information with any other Federal, State, or local government entity.
(c) Obligation to respond to inquiries
The Immigration and Naturalization Service shall respond to an inquiry by a Federal, State, or local government agency, seeking to verify or ascertain the citizenship or immigration status of any individual within the jurisdiction of the agency for any purpose authorized by law, by providing the requested verification or status information.

Statements As Provided By Witnesses before the Committee:

Jeff Landry, Attorney General
State of Louisiana

"New Orleans: How the Crescent City became a Sanctuary City"

Thank you, Mister Chairman and Madame Ranking Member, for the opportunity to address your committee on one aspect of the public safety crisis of our time: illegal immigration.

As Louisiana's chief legal officer, I committed to ensuring the rule of law is followed by everyone. Like each of you, I took an oath to defend the Constitution. This pledge shall not be broken.
Unfortunately, sanctuary policies undermine justice. They are flagrant disregards for the law we all took an oath to uphold and defend.

As I am sure you agree, government’s most important function is providing safety and security to her people. Sanctuary policies not only jeopardize the ability to protect our people, but they also allow illegals to commit crimes then roam free in our communities.

It has been reported that cities with sanctuary policies have seen an increase in crime. One sanctuary city, Los Angeles, saw all crime rise in 2015: violent crime up 19.9%, homicides up 10.2%, shooting victims up 12.6%, rapes up 8.6%, robberies up 12.3%, and aggravated assault up 27.5%.

What is more: Immigration and Customs Enforcement recently revealed that 1,867 illegals released by sanctuary cities were later arrested 4,298 times with 7,491 new crimes – including rape and child sex abuse.

Sanctuary policies encourage further illegal immigration and promote an underground economy that sabotages the tax base.

Sanctuary policies also waste much-needed public resources as they force the federal government to find and arrest deportable criminals already taken into custody by local law enforcement.

This Spring, I advocated for legislation in Louisiana that would have increased public safety by incentivizing government to follow the law. A bill by Representative Valerie Hodges would give local officials the choice to cooperate with Immigration officials or to protect illegal aliens committing crimes and lose out on the ability to get state funds. A bill by Representative Jay Morris would create a private cause of action for the victims of these misguided policies.

Let me be clear: I am not trying to do the job of ICE or DHS. Between catching child predators, rooting out public corruption, and fighting federal overreach – I have more than enough to do to make Louisiana an even better place. But I am here today pushing for change because the Administration has not only decided to not enforce the law, but they have also used their power to coerce local jurisdictions in my State to institute sanctuary policies.

In my beloved New Orleans, the Justice Department entered into a consent decree with the City that mandated police officers not make inquiries into an individual’s immigration status or assist ICE unless there is a warrant or court order issued.

As a former police officer and sheriff deputy, I find it unconscionable that criminals cannot be held on anything less than a warrant or a court order. After all – American citizens are detained on reasonable suspicion, arrested on probable cause, and may not see a judge for 2 to 3 days. Illegal immigrants should not be given greater rights than our own citizens have.

After hearing testimony in the Louisiana House that City of New Orleans deemed the DOJ consent decree as mandating their sanctuary policy, I wrote a letter to United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch asking for clarification. The response that this committee and I received was a lengthy, legally-worded non-answer that we have unfortunately come to expect from this Administration.

However, a recent report by DOJ’s own Inspector General outlined the fact that sanctuary jurisdictions, like New Orleans, are in violation of federal law by prohibiting communication with ICE officials. Furthermore, it explicitly declared that local jurisdictions are required to be in compliance with all federal laws in order to receive federal grant dollars. All the while, the Administration has been rewarding sanctuary cities with hundreds of millions of dollars in federal grants.

Besides fiscal and legal issues, there are many health concerns. Additionally, there are homeland security issues. Foreign terrorists – such as members of ISIS – have the ability to travel to a city like New Orleans, commit a minor offense, and remain protected from being identified – due to sanctuary policies.

Reducing crime and saving lives are not partisan issues. In fact, politics never came up when I met with the family of St. John the Baptist Parish Fire Chief Spencer Chauvin. Chief Chauvin was killed last month in the Greater New Orleans Area by an illegal alien with a vast criminal background in our country.

The questions were not Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal. Rather, this grieving family simply asked one thing that this Committee, Congress, and the Administration should absolutely answer: why do we have to wait for illegals to commit violent crimes before we can deport them?
And I pose to you an even humbler one: why is being in the United States illegally not a deportable offense?

Honorable Members, we need a sound immigration policy that begins with securing the border and enforcing the immigration laws already on the books. Congress must act to help support those of us at the State level who have been fighting sanctuary policies. 





Good morning, Chairman [Trey] Gowdy, Ranking Member [Zoe] Lofgren, and distinguished members of the Subcommittee. Thank you for the opportunity to speak before you today about the Justice Department’s work to advance public safety and promote effective, constitutional, and community-oriented policing. The Department of Justice works tirelessly to protect the civil rights and physical safety of all people in America. State and local law enforcement serve as the first line of defense for public safety. In communities around the country, police, sheriffs, and other law enforcement officers fight crime on our streets. They keep our families safe from harm. They save lives. And – as recent events painfully remind us – they do this demanding and often dangerous work at great personal risk and sacrifice. They deserve our deepest respect, our highest praise, and our steadfast support.

The Justice Department invests substantial resources and oversees a range of programs to support law enforcement agencies around the country. Through these efforts, we strive to advance constitutional policing, to protect officer and public safety, and to bolster trust in community-police relations. Our work spans an array of areas: providing funding and equipment, issuing guidance and technical assistance, conducting training, and leading enforcement actions. In New Orleans alone, the Department has awarded more than $11.3 million in local grants through its Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) to create or preserve positions for 80 officers since 2009.
New Orleans is also one of several cities adopting crime-fighting strategies as part of the Violence Reduction Network (VRN). The initiative is a comprehensive approach to reducing violent crime that complements the Attorney General’s Smart on Crime Initiative and leverages existing Justice Department resources in communities around the country. A major focus area for New Orleans since it joined the VRN has been building its crime analysis capabilities to make better use of data in order to prevent, predict, and deter crime. In addition, in New Orleans and the greater New Orleans area, under the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s VALOR Initiative, the VALOR Officer Safety and Wellness Program has trained approximately 261 law enforcement officers in officer safety, wellness, and resilience and approximately 87 law enforcement officers have received active shooter response training.

Let us make no mistake. The vast majority of men and women who wear the badge serve our communities with professionalism, with integrity, and with distinction. Yet when police departments engage in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional policing, their actions can severely erode community trust and profoundly undermine public safety. More than two decades ago, Congress recognized the connection between constitutional policing and public safety and charged the Justice Department with the responsibility of enforcing 42 U.S.C. § 14141, part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. This statute authorizes us to investigate local law enforcement agencies for a pattern or practice of misconduct – such as excessive force or discriminatory policing – that violates federal law and, where necessary, to file litigation to ensure reform. A critical part of all § 14141 investigations is hearing directly from officers and community members. If we identify a pattern or practice of unlawful conduct, we try to negotiate a settlement agreement with the jurisdiction. These agreements typically are entered as court-approved consent decrees, overseen by an independent monitor to ensure lasting reform that serves the community’s interests in public safety and equitable treatment.

While common themes tend to emerge during these investigations, we also know that each jurisdiction faces unique challenges and requires tailored remedies. Today, I’ll discuss our work with NOPD by explaining the problems we found and the reforms the city agreed to implement. In May 2010, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu requested that the Justice Department conduct an independent investigation of NOPD’s systems and operations. In a letter, Mayor Landrieu acknowledged that he “inherited a police force ... described by many as one of the worst police departments in the country,” referencing “the number of violent crimes, incidents of rape, and malfeasance by members of the police department” and calling for a “complete transformation” of NOPD. During the next 10 months, we conducted a careful, fact- driven investigation. As we do in every investigation, we interviewed NOPD officers, supervisors, and command staff. We spoke with community members and government officials. We participated in more than 40 community meetings with advocates, civic leaders, and public officials. We reviewed a wide range of NOPD documents, policies, and data. And we observed police activity, including by participating in ride-alongs with officers and supervisors.

Following our investigation, in March 2011 we published our findings in a detailed 141- page letter. We found patterns of conduct by NOPD that violated the law and caused unnecessary harm to residents: excessive force and unconstitutional stops, searches, and arrests; biased policing, including racial and ethnic profiling; and a failure to effectively communicate with, and provide policing services to, residents with limited English proficiency (LEP). We found a failure to adequately investigate sexual assault and domestic violence. And we found that the police department failed officers themselves, providing inadequate training, supervision, and support. Taken together, these failures significantly undermined public safety.

Given the Subcommittee’s interests, I want to focus my testimony specifically on the problems of discriminatory policing that we identified in New Orleans and the remedies that followed. People of many different races, ethnicities, and national origins live in New Orleans. African-American residents constitute roughly 60 percent of the city’s population. Beginning in the mid-1970s, many Vietnamese immigrants began to settle in New Orleans. And in the years after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans saw a significant number of Latino immigrants move to the city.

During our investigation, we found reasonable cause to believe that NOPD engaged in a pattern or practice of discriminatory policing. We found evidence that NOPD unfairly enforced the law – or failed to enforce the law – based on one’s race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity. We found evidence that many officers engaged in biased policing by deciding whom to stop, search, or arrest based on a subject’s race or ethnicity, rather than how she behaved or credible information that she engaged in criminal activity. And we found evidence that NOPD denied policing services to – or failed to take meaningful steps to communicate with – some communities because of biases or stereotypes. The discriminatory policing practices we documented broke the law. They also eroded trust between the police force and the city’s residents. As a result, residents were less willing to share information with officers – information critical to solving and preventing crime – making the residents and the officers less safe.

Police officers cannot solve crimes – and therefore cannot help victims, prosecute criminals, or help federal law enforcement deport violent criminals – if victims and witnesses feel afraid to share information. In New Orleans, we heard from crime victims and community members who told us of the Latino community’s strong belief that reporting crime may lead to unwanted attention or harassment from the police. Crime victims said that when they called the police for help, officers only asked about their immigration status, instead of addressing the physical safety threat they faced, or the other specific reason they called the police in the first place. Latino residents became afraid to encounter and interact with the police because they knew NOPD officers regularly stopped Latinos for minor offenses – behavior that would not ordinarily merit police activity – solely to question them about their immigration status. Interactions like these created fear and eroded trust. As one man testified in court at a fairness hearing about the problems facing day laborers, “these are the most common problems within our community: [t]hat my purse was stolen, they assaulted me, they robbed me, and we simply stay quiet, we don’t call the police because we are afraid to call them, we don’t trust them.” As one community member told us: “Out of fear, we stay quiet.” When communities fear the police, it undermines the officers’ ability to fight crime and protect public safety.

Similarly, when police officers cannot effectively communicate with an entire group of community members, it undermines officers’ ability to protect public safety and fight crime. In New Orleans, we found that the inability of NOPD officers to effectively communicate with LEP individuals – including Latino and Vietnamese immigrants – had harmful consequences. At the time of our investigation, NOPD relied primarily on just two officers – one fluent in Spanish and one fluent in Vietnamese – to assist on all service calls and investigations involving LEP residents. Testifying at a fairness hearing, one Spanish-speaking immigrant told the court about the problems caused by officers’ inability to communicate with many residents: “[W]e don’t feel safe, we don’t feel supported. We, the immigrants don’t feel support from them [the police].
We cannot call them for any kind of problem for help.”

Law enforcement leaders around the country recognize the critical connection between community trust and crime prevention. As Tom Manger, Chief of Police for the Montgomery County, Maryland, Police Department and President of the Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCCA), said in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last year: “Whether we seek to stop child predators, drug dealers, rapists[,] or robbers – we need the full cooperation of victims and witness[es].” And he continued to explain the specific challenges facing immigrant communities: “When immigrants come to view their local police and sheriffs with distrust because they fear deportation, it creates conditions that encourage criminals to prey upon victims and witnesses alike.” Other police chiefs and leaders of law enforcement professional associations have made similar comments, highlighting the importance of community trust to advance public safety.

In 2012, New Orleans and the Justice Department entered into a comprehensive consent decree – approved by the federal court in 2013 – to resolve our allegations of unlawful police misconduct. The decree requires NOPD to make important changes in policies and practices related to the use of force; stops, searches, and arrests; the prevention of discriminatory policing; and officer training, oversight, and supervision. The agreement requires NOPD to prioritize community interaction and partnerships, ensuring that its core operations support community policing. It requires NOPD and the city to develop and implement a comprehensive recruitment program to attract and hire a diverse group of qualified officers. And it requires NOPD to ensure that officers get access to mental health services, crisis counseling, and stress management training.

To prevent discriminatory policing, our consent decree requires NOPD to deliver policing services in an equitable, respectful, and bias-free manner. NOPD must ensure that all members of the public receive the equal protection of the law. To implement these changes, NOPD must effectively communicate with – as well as provide timely policing services to – all members of the community, regardless of their national origin or their ability to speak English. Accordingly, NOPD agreed to provide all officers with four hours of comprehensive training on bias-free policing.

In addition, to more effectively prevent and solve crimes, NOPD will provide all individuals in the city – regardless of immigration status – with essential police services. In practice, this means NOPD officers won’t conduct investigations, make arrests, or take other law enforcement actions merely because of a subject’s immigration status or the color of one’s skin. This means officers won’t question victims or witnesses about their immigration status unless for a legitimate law enforcement reason relevant to the investigation. NOPD officers can still take law enforcement action where individuals, whatever their immigration status, are wanted for a crime or where they have independent law enforcement reasons for doing so. For example, police can, of course, question or arrest someone suspected of committing a crime; assist with executing a criminal immigration warrant; share information and cooperate with federal authorities during criminal investigations, including in situations that might put officers and federal agents in danger; and enforce driving laws. NOPD agreed to widely distribute a written policy incorporating the requirements highlighted above. Clear and effective policies foster mutual trust and respect between officers and the residents they serve.

In February of this year – after seeking input from the New Orleans community, the court-appointed monitor, and the federal district court, as well as the U.S. Departments of Justice and Homeland Security – NOPD issued a new policy to help officers provide services effectively and fairly to all people in the city, regardless of their immigration status or the color of their skin. After this new policy was released, local officials and members of Congress raised concerns about NOPD’s policy on immigration status, specifically regarding its compliance with a federal statute, 8 U.S.C. § 1373, which states that government entities and officials “may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual.” In July, the Justice Department wrote to all recipients of the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program and the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP), reaffirming that Section 1373 is an applicable federal law for the purposes of the JAG program and SCAAP. Following the issuance of the Department’s guidance, the Civil Rights Division began working with New Orleans officials to update NOPD’s policy on immigration status to clarify that the policy complies with Section 1373 and to most effectively advance non-discriminatory policing. Earlier this month, the parties and the independent monitor approved the revised language, and NOPD formally adopted it, clarifying that “[t]his policy is to be construed in accordance with 8 U.S.C. § 1373(a).” 

The policy on immigration status (Chapter 41.6.1 in NOPD’s Operations Manual) – along with several additional policies on the use of force, sexual assault, domestic violence, and crisis intervention, among other topics – provides officers with clear guidance to ensure non- discrimination in policing and to build trust between law enforcement and the entire New Orleans community. Of course, NOPD continues to investigate crimes and work with federal officials to arrest violent criminals regardless of their immigration status. This policy explicitly permits NOPD to assist victims and witnesses in obtaining U visas and T visas, where appropriate. These programs serve an important function in allowing victims and witnesses to help law enforcement prosecute violent crimes and human trafficking. By facilitating a culture of trust and cooperation – the new policy will help local and federal law enforcement advance, not impede, these critical goals of fighting crime, identifying and prosecuting people who have committed violent crimes, and protecting public safety. Under the decree, NOPD also agreed to annually review each new policy to ensure it provides clear direction to officers, remains consistent with the agreement, and complies with current law. And – as we do with every jurisdiction where we negotiate a consent decree – the Justice Department continues to work closely with NOPD, the city, the monitor, and the court as we engage in this rigorous review process for all policies.

As we engage on these issues, we must recognize the reality that thousands of immigrants and their families live in the city of New Orleans. Under our Constitution and laws, police must protect all people from violence and from harm. The hard-working men and women of the New Orleans Police Department continue to do precisely that by fighting crime and partnering with federal law enforcement to identify and prosecute people who have committed violent crimes. In New Orleans, and in any city the Justice Department works with, real and lasting reform can’t happen overnight. We often get involved in communities precisely because systemic policy failures and constitutional violations – built up over decades – have created a culture of mistrust and disrespect. While we see promising signs of progress in New Orleans, we also know that real reform takes time. And we recognize the vital role of sustained collaboration and cooperation with the entire community: from public officials, to police officers, to community members. I want to commend Mayor Landrieu and NOPD Superintendent [Michael] Harrison for their partnership, their collaboration, and their cooperation throughout this process. And I view our dialogue today, with this Subcommittee, as an important part of that same process about how police reform can make the residents and officers of New Orleans safer for generations to come. Thank you, once again, for inviting me to speak with you today. I look forward to your questions. 


Statement of Michael E. Horowitz Inspector General, U.S. Department of Justice
before the
U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security
“New Orleans: How the Crescent City Became a Sanctuary City”
September 27, 2016

Mr. Chairman, Congresswoman Lofgren, and Members of the Subcommittee:
Thank you for inviting me to testify before you today. Earlier this year, the Department of Justice (Department or DOJ) Office of Justice Programs (OJP) advised the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) that it had received information indicating that several jurisdictions receiving Department grant funds may be in violation of 8 U.S.C. Section 1373 (Section 1373), and asked the OIG to investigate the allegations. Section 1373 provides that Federal, State, and local government officials cannot prohibit or restrict communication of information regarding the citizenship or immigration status of an individual to Federal immigration officials. Accompanying its request, the Department provided the OIG with grant-related information for more than 140 state and local jurisdictions that had active grant awards or received State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) payments in 2015. In addition, OJP provided a letter from Congressman John Culberson to the Attorney General regarding whether Department grant recipients were complying with Federal law, particularly Section 1373, and attached to this letter was a January 2016 study by the Center for Immigration Studies.

We reviewed the matter as requested by the Department and provided OJP with a memorandum advising it of the steps we had taken and summarizing the information we had learned. We did so expeditiously because, in part, the Department’s grant process was ongoing and we found that the Department had not yet provided grant recipients with clear guidance as to whether Section 1373 was an “applicable federal law” that recipients were expected to comply with in order to satisfy relevant grant rules and regulations. The OIG memorandum can be found on our website at:

Summary of OIG Findings

Based on the large number of jurisdictions referred by OJP and the need to provide our review expeditiously, we judgmentally selected a sample of 10 state and local jurisdictions from the list provided to us by OJP for further review. For each of these jurisdictions, we researched the local laws and policies that govern their interactions with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), assessed these laws and policies, and interviewed ICE officials to gain their perspective on ICE’s relationship with the selected jurisdictions.

While a primary and frequently-cited indicator of limitations placed on cooperation by state and local jurisdictions with ICE is how the particular jurisdiction handles immigration detainer requests, we noted that Section 1373 does not specifically address restrictions on cooperation with ICE detainer requests. We further noted that the Department of Homeland Security has made a legal determination that civil immigration detainers are voluntary in nature and that the ICE officials with whom we spoke told us that they are not enforceable against jurisdictions which do not comply.
Based on our research, we found that each of the 10 jurisdictions had laws or policies that placed limitations on how they could respond to an ICE detainer request. Some jurisdictions honored a detainer request when the subject had prior felony convictions, gang membership, or listing on a terrorist watchlist, while other jurisdictions did not honor a detainer request under any circumstances.

In addition, we found that the laws and policies of several of the jurisdictions we reviewed went beyond placing limitations on complying with civil immigration detainer requests and potentially limited the sharing of immigration status information with Federal immigration authorities. For example, one jurisdiction prohibited its employees from providing information about the citizenship or immigration status of any person “unless required to do so by legal process.” This “savings clause” language appeared to us to be inconsistent with the plain language of Section 1373 because, for example, Section 1373 does not require cooperation with ICE through “legal process” but rather is intended to permit employees to provide immigration status information to ICE upon request. Moreover, to be effective, this “savings clause” provision presumably would have to render the restriction described in the ordinance null and void with respect to ICE requests for immigration status information, even though the very purpose of the ordinance was to restrict cooperation with ICE.

Similarly, we found that the laws and policies of other jurisdictions in our sample group that addressed the handling of ICE detainer requests might have a broader practical impact on the level of cooperation with ICE, and might be inconsistent with the intent of Section 1373. For example, one jurisdiction’s prohibition relating to personnel expending their time responding to ICE inquiries could easily be read by employees and officers as prohibiting them from expending time responding to ICE requests relating to immigration status. While these policies do not explicitly restrict the sharing of information, they could cause local officials to apply them in a manner that prohibits or restricts cooperation with ICE, which would be inconsistent with Section 1373. Indeed, this concern was expressed to us by ICE officials.

Steps for the Department to Undertake

As we noted in our memorandum to the Department, in March 2016, OJP notified SCAAP and Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) applicants about the requirement to comply with Section 1373, and advised them that if OJP received information that an applicant may be in violation of Section 1373, the applicant may be referred for further investigation to the OIG and may be subject to criminal and civil penalties, in addition to relevant OJP programmatic penalties.
In light of the Department’s notification to grant applicants, we advised the Department that it should consider taking additional steps, including:

Providing clear guidance to grant recipients regarding whether they would be expected to comply with Section 1373 in order to satisfy relevant grant rules and regulations;

Requiring grant applicants to provide certifications specifying the applicants’ compliance with Section 1373, along with documentation sufficient to support certification; and

Ensuring grant recipients clearly communicate to their personnel the provisions of Section 1373, especially that employees cannot be prohibited or restricted from sending citizenship or immigration status information to ICE.
In addition, we suggested that the Department consult with ICE and other Federal agencies, prior to awarding a grant, to determine whether applicants are prohibiting or restricting the sharing of this information by employees with ICE.
We believe that these steps would provide the Department with assurances that the grant applicant was operating in compliance with Section 1373 and would also be helpful should the Department refer alleged violations of Section 1373 to the OIG for further investigation.  

This concludes my prepared statement, and I will be pleased to answer any questions that the Subcommittee may have. 



New Orleans: How the Crescent City Became a Sanctuary City September 27, 2016 10:00 AM

Chairman Gowdy, Ranking Member Lofgren and members of the committee: I am Zach Butterworth, Executive Counsel and the Director of Federal Relations for the City of New Orleans. Thank you for inviting me to provide testimony to the Committee as it considers these important issues.
Before I delve into my testimony, I want to emphasize three points:

1. Public safety is our top priority in New Orleans. Anyone — legal or undocumented — who commits a violent crime in New Orleans will be arrested. Our record shows that every day, the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) works closely with federal and state law enforcement agencies to keep violent criminals off our streets. In 2012, Mayor Landrieu formed the Multi-Agency Gang (MAG) Unit to bring the most violent criminals to justice. The MAG Unit consists of law enforcement officials from NOPD, Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office, Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, Louisiana State Police, Parole Board of the Louisiana Department of Corrections, United States Attorney’s Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Drug Enforcement Administration, United States Marshal’s Service, and the United States Probation & Parole Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana. To date, prosecutions by the MAG Unit have led to the conviction of more than 100 violent criminals.

2. The NOPD’s policy does not make New Orleans a sanctuary city — we are following federal law.

3. The NOPD’s policy on immigration status will make our city safer by allowing officers to focus on protecting the public and ensuring that everyone is able to report crimes and cooperate as witnesses. 

The policy is bearing fruit. In the last few months, a hispanic male was approached
by an armed individual who placed the gun to his head and robbed him. The victim called the police and the assailant was apprehended. This victim cooperated with the DA’s office as well as NOPD and another violent criminal is off the streets — convicted of armed robbery.

For generations, New Orleans, like many communities, has seen tension between the police and the community. When Mayor Landrieu took office in 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) had already launched a series of investigations related to civil rights abuses by officers in the Department. It was clear that changes were needed, so Mayor Landrieu immediately requested that the DOJ step in to help reform the Department.1 At the time, the public rightly demanded that the police operate in a manner consistent with the Constitution and all federal, state and local laws.

In 2012, the NOPD and the DOJ entered into a comprehensive Consent Decree that reflected years of work and a shared commitment to effective, constitutional and professional law enforcement. The Consent Decree contains an array of separate requirements detailed in more than 492 paragraphs and 122 pages.

Since then, we have completely overhauled the NOPD. We have launched 11 new recruit classes and put in place 34 new operational policies that continue to transform the culture of the Department. The new policies cover use of force, K9 use, proper prisoner transport, taser operation, body-worn camera operation and how officers should respond to reports of sexual assault, to name just a few.

1 New Orleans has a unique political structure. The mayor and sheriff represent separate and distinct political subdivisions that are independently elected by the citizens of New Orleans. The mayor is elected parish-wide to lead the executive branch of government, including the NOPD. The Orleans Parish Sheriff is elected parish-wide to
oversee the jail, which is currently under the operational control of a federally appointed compliance director.

To ensure constitutionality, workability and consistency, every policy that the NOPD adopts is approved by the Federal Consent Decree Monitor2 (Federal Monitor) and the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. It should go without saying that all policies must promote public safety and adhere to local, state and federal laws. Additionally, the entire Consent Decree falls under the oversight of Judge Susie Morgan of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

This same process was followed in the drafting of the original and revised policies, Chapter 41.6.1, Immigration Status. Additionally, we engaged officials from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and reviewed best practices around the country. For instance, the Major City Chiefs Association, which represents law enforcement agencies covering 70 million Americans, supports policies that foster trust and cooperation between police officers and immigrant communities.

Beginning in September 2015, the City and NOPD held multiple discussions with ICE, both local and headquarters, to determine the requirements for local police departments regarding the treatment of undocumented immigrants. At that time, ICE verbally told NOPD that the draft policy complied with all ICE requirements.

Further, on December 1, 2015, Judge Morgan called a meeting with NOPD, ICE, DOJ and the Federal Monitor to give ICE agents the opportunity to raise any concerns with the new policy. Five ICE agents attended the meeting including the Chief Legal Counsel in the New Orleans field office. The local ICE representatives did not raise any substantive issues in the meeting, and were told to contact the monitor with any further concerns with the policy.

2 In 2013, U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan selected the law firm of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter and Hampton as the Federal Consent Decree Monitor.


After the policy was thoroughly reviewed by the Federal Monitor, DOJ and NOPD, Federal Monitor David Douglass approved it on February 2, 2016. Mr. Douglass noted in the approval letter that the new policy “sets forth clear and appropriate rules to guide officer conduct.”

On March 3, 2016, Mayor Landrieu wrote to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, requesting that they contact the Federal Monitor if any officials within DHS or DOJ had concerns that the policy did not fully comply with any federal law. On July 7, 2016, the DOJ, on behalf of both agencies, responded with general guidance regarding 8 U.S.C. § 1373.

After receiving the guidance from DOJ, the NOPD’s compliance bureau reengaged the DOJ Civil Rights Division and the Federal Monitor. Out of an abundance of caution, we discussed changes to the policy that would ensure clarity regarding 8 U.S.C. §1373.

On September 22, 2016, the Federal Monitor, working with DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, and the NOPD, approved modifications to the NOPD’s policy. In approving the policy, the Federal Monitor stated that “[o]ur approval is also based on the representation by the Department of Justice that this policy complies with 8 U.S.C. §1373.”

The NOPD’s policy on immigrant status follows federal law and will make New Orleans safer. As required by the Consent Decree, the NOPD will annually review all policies to ensure that they prioritize public safety, best practices and current law. 

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