NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Immigrant advocates loudly protested outside the Morial Convention Center Monday, appalled by images of children held in tents and converted stores along the border.
Acting on the images of children separated from their parents who are being prosecuted for crossing the border illegally, Chloe Sigal with the Congress of Day Laborers says protestors took advantage of an opportunity.
"(Sessions) is not enforcing the law. He's doing everything within his power, whether that's enforcement in a dangerous way, the way he's doing with separation of families at the border," Sigal said.
Sessions, along with Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen, spoke in front of the National Sheriff's Association meeting in New Orleans.
"For those who have complained about this administration's vigorous enforcement of the law and the results of that enforcement, this is your opportunity to work with us," Nielsen said.
"We can't have a society where people commit crimes all over the place and nothing happens," Sessions said.
Sigal says as a group that advocates for immigrants locally, they've seen the fear firsthand.
"You don't know what its like to stand up in front of a room of 200 people and say, 'Does everyone have their power of attorney in case you get arrested?' But those are the kinds of concrete steps we have to take right now, and unfortunately it's taking a huge toll right now," said Sigal.
She fears that when local sheriff's offices begin practicing Sessions' and Nielsen's message, it will create fear and danger in a community that's worked to welcome immigrants.
"Some say Jeff Sessions is an extremist. They say you know what? That may be happening at the federal level, but it's not happening in my community. That's not true," said Sigal.
No one with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office would speak on camera, but they said they participate in several joint investigations with federal agencies, including ICE. But that immigration enforcement is primarily a concern for federal agents, as opposed to their deputies.
Sigal says even though five of their supporters were arrested while protesting, it's a cause they will continue to fight for.
'"Whatever a viewer may feel at home, watching the news is heightened times a 100 by someone who's impacted," said Sigal.
The Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office would not return calls about their policy when working with the United States' Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
JPSO said they will detain people for ICE, but only when requested.