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Louisiana vs Feds: Passive or Aggressive?

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Louisiana lawmakers have a love-hate relationship with the Feds. We love those federal funds, but chafe at edicts from Washington D.C.

“We’ve got a federal government that’s telling us how we educate our kids, telling them how they go to the bathroom, telling them everything in the whole world," said Mandeville Senator Jack Donahue in a Judiciary A committee meeting Tuesday.

Which is why Denham Springs Representative Valarie Hodges' stance seems a bit unusual.  

"To me," said Hodges, "it's un-American to say we’re not cooperating with the federal government.” 

Hodges authors the sanctuary cities bill, imposing state financial sanctions on cities that do not cooperate with federal immigration law.

Metairie Senator Danny Martiny has concerns about the process of imposing those sanctions.

“We are looking at some very severe penalties that can be posed on cities, municipalities and agencies in this state, and we’re going to do it based upon an opinion," he remarked.

The bill, as written, allows the Attorney General to tell the state Bond Commission not to hear any funding applications from cities that do not question immigrant detainees and turn them over to the Feds.

“We’re basically taking the lead. When the federal government fails to do its job, it is the job of the state to then continue to protect its citizens,” said Attorney General Jeff Landry.

But Alexandria Senator Jay Luneau questions giving the Attorney General so much power.

“It’s my belief as a practicing lawyer of 25 years," he said to Representative Hodges, "that your bill violates the equal protection, due process, separation of powers of both the United States and Louisiana constitutions.” 

“But that’s [the Attorney General's] job based on the criteria set forth in this bill,” said Hodges, defending the proposal.  

"No Ma'am, that is not his job. His job is not to be judge, jury and executioner,” replied Luneau.

After an hour of debate, the Senate committee tabled the House-approved bill for another week.