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Bill challenging sanctuary also challenges Edwards

As Louisiana’s majoritarian branches of government struggle within their bubble in dealing with budgetary deficits, out in the larger world other things still happen that require their attention, and one flare-up may portend a coming struggle in the next state elections.

Encouraged by the Pres. Barack Obama Administration that wishes to leave no illegal alien behind, New Orleans has joined Orleans Parish in taking on the mantle as a “sanctuary city” – meaning that its public safety forces will make no effort to facilitate the enforcement of national immigration laws. Indeed, the city bans the police department from even trying to accomplish this.

As previously noted, federal law requires this cooperation but the Obama Administration has signaled it will turn a blind eye toward that. Without this oversight, the state can’t do much at present to ensure this necessary working together except possibly to withhold policing grant money that does not amount to much. Even an executive order doing this from Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards might not legally get the job done – assuming he would do something like that, which seems doubtful given his party’s position on this issue.

Statute could do the trick and then some, and so state Rep. Valarie Hodges introduced HB 151 that would cut off sanctuary cities from all sorts of state grant money. It would prohibit policies that prevent local law enforcement from working with federal authorities with warrants or probable cause in detaining illegal aliens or disallows local law enforcement from making inquiries about a person’s citizenship status.

None of this should stoke controversy, for Louisiana already has a law that allows for asking and possibly turning over to federal authority illegal aliens with probable cause for a traffic offense. About the only way in which the law might go too far comes in its permitting officers to ask people of their citizenship without their direct tie to criminal activity, which may have the unintended consequence of discouraging those illegally in the country to report information relevant to crimes.

Yet this could become a big issue over the next four years, not only because of the non-trivial presence of illegal aliens in the U.S. but also as Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry has given his unqualified support for the bill. Landry is no stranger to a hardline stance on the issue, making that abundantly clear in his two years as a congressman. His recent election to his current office might end up as his only term as already he has positioned himself this early on, if he desires to head in that direction, as a serious challenger to Edwards.

So not only does HB 151 pursue largely desirable policy aims, it also becomes a way to distinguish a candidate for governor some three years from now from Edwards on an issue where a challenger would have a distinct advantage. Because of that, Edwards will try but likely not succeed in bottling up the bill in the House, yet even failing there probably Republican Senate Pres. John Alario will have his back and make sure the bill never gets to Edwards’ desk to expose the governor on this issue.

For both policy and political reasons, when the regular session commences, Republicans especially should make a major effort to advance the bill. Landry’s driving it invites the appearance of another chink in Edwards’ armor that he may exploit in the future.

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