The Orleans Parish Sheriff, under a federal consent decree to implement widespread changes to its troubled jail, will no longer detain people whom the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau suspects are in the U.S. illegally, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Under Sheriff Marlin Gusman’s new policy, the office will decline voluntary immigration detention requests, unless an individual is being held on felony charges for violent crimes.
The new policy was filed in federal court as part of the settlement of a 2011 lawsuit filed by two immigrants who were detained at the lockup for months after their sentences were served. The policy change is the first of its kind in a southern American city. New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., have enacted similar changes, but the immigration advocates who brought the New Orleans case called Gusman’s policy one of the nation’s farthest-reaching.