Vitter's 'sanctuary cities' legislation torpedoed by Senate Demo - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

Vitter's 'sanctuary cities' legislation torpedoed by Senate Democrats

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) -

Sen. David Vitter tried but failed Tuesday to push through legislation to crack down on so-called “sanctuary cities” that have local laws shielding people from federal immigration authorities.

After a speech on the Senate floor, democrats blocked the legislation.

"Cooperation has been stifled by lawsuits aimed at bullying local law enforcement,” said Vitter. 

In the past, the feds have requested that local authorities detain certain individuals for 48 hours until they can be picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. But Vitter believes at the local level, authorities have a big reason not to cooperate.

"There are dozens and dozens of sanctuary cities, jurisdictions that have those policies that were cooperating in the past, that want to cooperate, but they have been faced with lawsuits from the ACLU and others. Court decisions that local law enforcement officials could be held liable for violating an individual's constitutional rights simply for honoring a detainer request for ICE. Now that's ridiculous,” Vitter said.

Marjorie Esman of the Louisiana ACLU weighed in on Vitter’s legislation and statements.

"A lawsuit to challenge an illegal detainer is by definition not a frivolous lawsuit. If somebody is detained illegally, their rights are being violated and they need somebody to come to their defense,” Esman said.

A part of the legislation would deny such cities some federal funds. Vitter argued that the legislation would not violate individuals’ legal or constitutional rights.

Esman disagreed.

"Local law enforcement aren't trained in the nuances of immigration law and if often happens that people are detained illegally because somebody, some local law enforcement person thinks that they should be detained when in fact they shouldn't be there may be very good legitimate legal reasons why somebody's in this country,” she said.

Of late, because of costs local authorities had been incurring for detaining inmates an extra two days on the behalf of ICE, a spokesman said ICE instead seeks 48 hour notice from local authorities before the planned release of a particular inmate.

The Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office issued a statement as it relates to giving ICE notice.

“We only give ICE notice with respect to voluntary detainer requests when an inmate's underlying charges are a serious crime of violence. We always comply when ICE sends a detainer order, which has the effect of a warrant. Otherwise, we do not comply with the voluntary requests,” said OPSO Public Information Officer Philip Stelly.

ICE criminal warrants or court orders for continued detention are not considered voluntary detainer requests.

In the end, Vitter’s bill failed 54-45. 

Republicans have pushed the legislation since the July shooting death of a San Francisco woman allegedly by a man in the country illegally, who had a long criminal record and multiple prior deportations.

"There are a lot of reasons why this bill should have been killed and it's a good thing that it was,” Esman stated.

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