New Orleans police, in an effort to bolster relations and trust with members of the city’s burgeoning Hispanic community, will not ask crime victims or witnesses about their documentation status, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Police Superintendent Warren Riley, with Mayor Ray Nagin and representatives of the law-enforcement and Hispanic communities, made the announcement at a news conference calling for immigration reform.
“We will not under any circumstances focus on deportation, ” Riley said, noting that his department’s goal is to protect and serve everyone. Their announcement seemed to enshrine the city’s unofficial policing stance as it pertains to illegal immigrants, many of whom flocked to rebuild the city in the wake of the 2005 flood and, in turn, became prime targets for armed robbers and unscrupulous contractors. The announcement brought local leaders into a highly charged and politicized national debate on how to police and punish illegal immigrants. Last month, a coalition of more than 500 local and national groups demanded that President Obama end a federal program that allows local police to enforce federal immigration law.