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Jeff Sessions Calls for End of ‘Sanctuary Cities’

Attorney General Jeff Sessions declared on Monday (3.27) that “sanctuary cities” like New Orleans will face drastic cuts to federal funding as a result of their lack of cooperation. It was a daring move of political leverage, with Sessions issuing one of the most blunt warnings from the Trump administration's campaign to tackle illegal immigration. The hours since his announcement have given rise to citywide uncertainties about the state of local security, economy, and public safety. For New Orleans, the new mandate may threaten the much-celebrated economic symbiosis between foreign-born and U.S.-born residents. 


Speaking at the White House, Sessions said that not just the economic stability of the country but the very livelihood of many Americans counts on the end of sanctuary cities. “Such policies cannot continue,” said Sessions. "They make our nation less safe by putting dangerous criminals back on the street.” 


Sessions stated that he will work to ensure that federal grant funding will be terminated in sanctuary cities (i.e. cities that permit illegal immigrants to live there in an effort to avoid deportation) until local government officials agree to comply with the administration’s immigration measures.


This is potentially devastating news for cities like New Orleans, which recently made the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s list of ‘uncooperative’ cities. ICE also took issue with coastal metropolitan areas like New York City, Boston, and Los Angeles for not alerting officials when they have detained illegal immigrants. Smaller-sized cities like New Orleans would feel the effects of terminated federal grants being in unforeseeable ways. 


Sessions noted that the Department of Justice alone will award cities over $4 billion in federal funding in 2017. The concern now for mid-sized metropolitan cities is not just if they can prosper under these limitations, but be able to sustain themselves without federal support. 


New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu has been aggressive in his stance against the administration’s proposed budget plan and immigration measures. In a statement made on March 21, Landrieu said, “we will not move officers off the street to join President Trump’s deportation force.” 


Just last week, the City of New Orleans endorsed a report by New American Economy (NAE) which highlighted the economic contributions made by foreign-born residents via large tax contributions, support for social programs, as well as higher rates of education and entrepreneurship in comparison to U.S.-born citizens. 


As Landrieu’s term as mayor comes to an end this year, he has put extra drive behind his $40 million plan to tackle crime in the French Quarter. With the lack of federal funding appearing increasingly like a reality, New Orleanians must take note how the city decides to address our rising rates of violence. 

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