Sessions Asylum

Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks about "the crisis facing our asylum system" at the Executive Office for Immigration Review in Falls Church, Va., Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Sait Serkan Gurbuz) ORG XMIT: DCSG114

Sait Serkan Gurbuz

Anyone in danger of physical harm, whether they be immigrant or not, should be given sanctuary if at all possible. It's the American way. Any city with the means available to provide sanctuary to those in danger should do so. But New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu's idea of providing sanctuary has nothing to do with those persecuted in other lands and in danger of bodily harm.

The mayor's insistence that his police department's refusal to ask or attempt to determine the legal status of those involved in investigations makes no sense, especially in light of the fact New Orleans is one of the most dangerous cities on the planet.

The Trump administration has singled out New Orleans as a sanctuary city because it won't cooperate with federal immigration agents. The mayor denies New Orleans provides sanctuary for immigrants here illegally. This has led to a feud between U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Landrieu.

This past week, U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., jumped into the middle of the feud during a Senate hearing. Kennedy apologized to Sessions for a letter Landrieu wrote to the attorney general, calling it unprofessional.

The Landrieu letter, which Kennedy partly quoted to Sessions during the hearing, accused the AG of scapegoating immigrants. Landrieu's letter also described Sessions as a fear-monger. Kennedy apologized to Sessions for Landrieu's letter.

The Justice Department is now threatening to withhold federal crime-fighting grant money if Landrieu doesn't begin to comply with federal law. Landrieu denies not being in compliance.

Regardless of whether New Orleans technically meets the definition of sanctuary city, Landrieu could end up costing New Orleans badly needed dollars for his stubborn refusal to simply determine the legal status of those involved in police investigations and then notify federal agents.

Those arguing in favor of providing sanctuary to immigrants here illegally justify it by claiming the immigrants would be less likely to cooperate during an investigation if they thought they could potentially be deported. Possibly. Police often face a lack of cooperation from witnesses in their attempt to gain convictions — hence the insane policy employed by New Orleans District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro to issue fake subpoenas and trying to trick witnesses into cooperating with police.

Sessions says when the mayor instructs police not to alert federal agents about arrests of people in the country illegally, he is releasing dangerous criminals back onto the streets.

You would think with all the problems facing New Orleans — with potholes everywhere, a lack of Fortune 500 companies, an inept drainage system, and out-of-control crime, the last thing Landrieu would be focusing on is protecting those here illegally.

The politically correct term is undocumented immigrant. But if someone broke into your home in the middle of the night, you wouldn't call the police and tell them there is an undocumented person in your home.

It's difficult to determine how much of the violent crime in New Orleans is caused by those here illegally — mostly because of Landrieu's don't ask, don't cooperate policy. In Landrieu's defense his immigration enforcement options are limited as a result of the consent decree the city entered into with the Department of Justice under President Barack Obama. But we do know this. According to the Department of Justice, more than 90 percent of the foreign-born federal prison population is made up of immigrants here illegally, and one-quarter of the entire federal prison population is foreign-born.

Sanctuary city advocates claim immigrants here illegally are no more likely to commit crime than US citizens. Maybe so, but it's irrelevant. The federal prison population numbers prove a significant number of those here illegally are committing crimes. So why is Landrieu trying to protect them? A skeptic might say the mayor is playing to his base to advance national political ambitions. Politics aside, what matters most is the safety and welfare of the citizens of New Orleans. That should be Priority 1 for Landrieu — not protecting those who jumped ahead of all those immigrants waiting in line to enter our country legally.

Dan Fagan, a former TV and radio broadcaster who lives in Metairie, writes a column that appears Wednesdays and Sundays. Email him at faganshow@gmail.com.