Lafayette City Marshal accuses sheriff candidate of encouraging illegal immigration

1:30 PM, Oct 07, 2015
12:07 PM, Jun 28, 2019

City Marshal Brian Pope criticized sheriff candidate Mark Garber and outgoing Sheriff Mike Neustrom today at a press conference.

Pope alleges that Garber encouraged illegal immigrants to move to Louisiana during a television interview in Honduras in 2013.

Garber, who is a worker’s compensation attorney, was questioned about what rights Honduran workers have in the US and Louisiana.

The interview with Honduras HCH TV went as follows:

Question: In Spanish

Garber Answer: “United States Immigration law is in a state of change, and it has nothing to do with your rights as an injured worker.”
Question: In Spanish
Garber Answer: “As a human being, you have rights according to our Constitution, and those rights are your rights in the State of Louisiana.”
Question: In Spanish
Garber Answer: “That’s what I’m here trying to do, is to get the word out and tell people — you need to seek help of an Attorney if you’re hurt at work and seek it very very quickly. Because they have rights and most people don’t realize they have rights.”
Question: In Spanish
Garber Answer: “Number one: Truthfully report the accident to the doctors at the hospital.”
Question: In Spanish
Garber Answer: “Number two: Call an Attorney, a qualified Attorney who will assist you with your work injury rights.”
Question: In Spanish
Garber Answer: “Number three: No use of illegal drugs, and don’t be afraid of being deported.”
Question: In Spanish
Garber Answer: “You will not be deported because you assert your rights under Workmen’s Compensation law.”

Pope said Garber was trying to protect illegal immigrants from deportation while drumming up business for his law practice.

“Making your living as a Workmen’s Compensation lawyer who specializes in Spanish-speaking clients is one thing, but to actually travel to Central America and do a television interview to “get the word out” that illegal immigrants can come to Louisiana, and file worker’s compensation claims without fear of being deported is entirely another. It’s irresponsible,” Pope said.

Garber responded to Pope’s accusations saying he took what was said in 2013 out of context.

“I never encouraged anyone to come to this country illegally,” Garber said. “I never encouraged anyone to break any laws. That insinuation made by this public official is a blatant lie.”

Garber said he traveled to Honduras to set up a trust fund for the daughters of a man who was killed on the job in Louisiana. He said he was asked by a local news station about immigration laws in the United States and what rights workers have if killed on the job.

Pope also made claims against Sheriff Neustrom, who has endorsed Garber. He said the sheriff  has a policy that does not allow the Marshal’s office or any other law enforcement agency to arrest and book anyone accused of misdemeanor crimes, including illegal immigrants.  He said this policy has been in place since Neustrom took office and as a result the Marshal’s office has 1,000 outstanding warrants for illegal immigrants.

Rob Reardon, director of corrections at the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office, said that is not true. He said that if someone has violated state statute or anything that is not traffic-related, they would accept them into the jail.

“I think it just speaks to poor inter-agency relationships when this is coming out in some sort of media format, when in all actuality I have asked Brian Pope on two separate occasions to come to the jail and come and look at our agency and see what services we actually provide,” Reardon said. “He hasn’t taken me up on either one of those invitations.”

Pope said he is concerned that if elected, Garber will follow suit with Neustrom’s policy on misdemeanor arrests.

“If his statements are any indication, he would expand it to the point of making Lafayette Parish a de facto sanctuary for illegal immigrants,” Pope said. “We just can’t let that happen.”