The state House on Wednesday revived the controversial effort to punish cities that have policies considered lenient toward immigrants in the country illegally, after a harsher version of the bill was rejected last week.
Bucking the trend of its conservative Southern peers, the Louisiana House on Tuesday rejecte…
The House-approved plan targeting so-called "sanctuary cities" removed certain penalties that required the vote to meet a two-thirds vote threshold for passage.
Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Denham Springs, took few questions on the bill Wednesday before the watered-down version passed on a 63-32 vote, after she conceded that no cities currently are deemed "sanctuary cities."
It now heads to the Senate for consideration but faces continued opposition from critics who say that it encourages discrimination against immigrants.
With an eye on New Orleans, lawmakers Wednesday advanced a bill that would ban sanctuary cit…
Under the latest version, cities that are deemed to have sanctuary policies in place would have 90 days to rectify. If they don't, then they risk losing state funding.
The effort to punish cities that adopt policies that shield undocumented immigrants has been building nationally in recent years. A similar effort to implement an anti-sanctuary city law here failed in the state Senate last year.
Though the debate was brief on Wednesday – at the objection to Democrats who said that they had sought to be recognized – the effort has sparked intense debates previously over the potential for discrimination.
Under the bill, the state attorney general would have the authority to deem local jurisdictions as sanctuary cities if they adopt any policy that limits cooperation with federal authorities in determining or reporting the immigration status of people in the country illegally.
Attorney General Jeff Landry, a Republican, has been supportive of the effort.
"In a loud, overwhelming manner the Louisiana House declared our state should not give more rights to criminal illegal aliens than to our own citizens," Landry said in a statement after the latest version passed. "Sanctuary cities impede communication and coordination with immigration authorities which in turn threatens public safety and jeopardizes our state’s access to federal funding."
While Hodges said that no cities in Louisiana currently would be deemed a "sanctuary city," but it's unclear whether that could change. The current legislation leaves the authority with the attorney general to challenge a city's status.
Previous concern had been raised about New Orleans because the city entered a consent decree with the federal government over previous treatment of immigrant communities.
Tyronne Walker, a spokesman for the City of New Orleans, said City Hall continues to strongly oppose the bill.
"It gives the attorney general unprecedented political power to punish New Orleans for following both federal law and the NOPD's consent decree that is overseen by the Department of Justice and a federal judge," he said.