NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The United States Department of Justice has sent the City of New Orleans a "last chance warning" about its status as a sanctuary city.
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The city of New Orleans has two weeks comply with federal immigration law or risk losing federal money.
The city maintains it cooperates with federal immigration agents on illegal immigrants.
The federal government, however, have a different take.
A 2016 inspector general report found the city does not comply.
Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia also received the two-week warning to comply or risk losing federal money.
The warning comes after a federal judge temporarily blocked the justice department from withholding grants while another court case plays out in court.
U.S. Senator John Kennedy today said he fears what will happen if the justice department does, in fact, withdraw federal funds here.
"I'm hoping the mayor is going to come around because I don't want to see New Orleans losing money. We need every single penny that we have and can get our hands on to fight crime."
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and New Orleans Police Department Superintendent Chief Michael Harrison issued a joint response to the justice department warning.
"As we have maintained for years, the Department of Justice has confirmed that we are in full compliance with 8 U.S.C. § 1373," Landrieu said. "Under my administration, the New Orleans Police Department has and will continue to follow all federal laws; however, the NOPD will not be the federal government's deportation force.
"We will build relationships between the NOPD and all community members. The City of New Orleans will not be side-tracked by caustic, political rhetoric that seeks to make us fearful of others and scapegoat immigrants. The NOPD will continue to focus on the arrest and conviction of violent criminals, regardless of their immigration status,"
Landrieu said the justice department failed to note that official NOPD policy does 'not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, [ICE] information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual.
"As such, we continue to state unambiguously that Chapter 41.6.1 does not restrict officers and employees from requesting information regarding immigration status from federal immigration officers. Pursuant to standard training procedures, all officers and employees were notified about the policy in September 2016. Instead of fear-mongering and false accusations, we urge you to work with mayors across the nation to tackle violent crime through smart, evidence-based policing."