Denham Springs Republican Rep. Valarie Hodges is jeopardizing public safety so she can maintain a law enforcement system that dehumanizes immigrant communities.
Hodges’ HB 151 would prohibit the creation of sanctuary cities by rendering any “state agency or political subdivision of the state of Louisiana that enacts or adopts a sanctuary city policy to be ineligible for funds appropriated in the General Appropriations Act, the Capital Outlay Act, or any other appropriation act.”
According to CNN, sanctuary cities “have policies or laws that limit the extent to which law enforcement and other government employees will go to assist the federal government on immigration matters.”
Hodges’ bill is likely a response to New Orleans’ recently passed sanctuary cities policy. The barely month-old regulations prohibit officers from inquiring about an individual’s immigration status, according to NOLA.com | The Times Picayune. Hodges filed her anti-sanctuary cities bill the day after New Orleans enacted these regulations.
The Congress of Day Laborers, a New Orleans based pro-immigrants’ rights group, pushed for the policy for two years to prevent discrimination. The group said officers would ask about an individual’s immigration status during a routine traffic stop, according to NOLA.com | The Times Picayune.
This bill isn’t only extremely anti-immigrant, it’s misguided. Hodges wants immigrants to live in a state of fear, where it is perfectly acceptable for an officer to ask an individual about their immigration status for having a broken taillight.
Sanctuary city policies are commonplace across the United States. CNN reports more than 200 jurisdictions in the United States have sanctuary city policies.
Hodges said she is pushing this bill because cities should not be “harboring criminals,” according to NOLA.com | The Times Picayune. There is no correlation between a city’s crime rate and their sanctuary policies. According to investigative magazine Mother Jones, San Francisco, which has had a sanctuary city policy since 1985, has a low murder rate when compared to cities without sanctuary city policy.
According to Lake Research Partners, PolicyLink and the University of Illinois at Chicago, 44 percent of Latinos surveyed “reported they are less likely to contact police officers if they have been the victim of a crime because they fear that police officers will use this interaction as an opportunity to inquire into their immigration status or that of people they know.”
When a community’s trust in the police breaks down, residents are less likely to report crime or act as a witness, according to the Marshall Project. Although Hodges may think she is preventing crime, she may actually be making the problem worse.
The study also found many Latinos believe potential lawbreakers are moving into their neighborhoods because they know residents are less likely to report them to law enforcement given the increased involvement of police in immigration enforcement.
If Hodges really wants to help immigrants and Latino residents, she would pass a law preventing racial profiling in Louisiana. These laws would build trust between marginalized communities and law enforcement, creating a safer community.
Hodges’ bill, as written, demonizes immigrants and punishes cities that seek to build trust between marginalized communities and law enforcement. If she truly cares about public safety, she should withdraw HB 151 immediately.
Michael Beyer is a 22-year-old political science senior from New Orleans, Louisiana.