City Marshal, Sheriff Candidate At Odds Over Foreign TV Interview
A 2013 Honduran television video has caused a squabble between Lafayette Parish Sheriff's candidate Mark Garber and Lafayette City Marshal Brian Pope.
Pope is calling on Garber to repudiate what Pope is calling "irresponsible statements" that Garber made while being interviewed on Honduran television.
Garber, a worker's compensation attorney, was filmed in Honduras in 2013 explaining, through an interpreter, that foreign workers have rights in Louisiana to seek an attorney if injured on the job. Garber told the interviewer that he was there " to get the word out" about seeking an attorney if an individual is injured. He mentioned foreign workers, like the Spanish-speaking immigrants Pope said Garber regularly represents, are not always aware that they have rights to an attorney and/or worker's compensation claims while working in Louisiana.
Pope held a press conference Wednesday morning where he stated Garber's comments that, in Pope's words, "illegal immigrants can come to Louisiana to file claims against local businesses and not worry about being deported," are "irresponsible, shocking and disgusting."
Pope released the following statement this morning:
“We already have a serious challenge in that the current Sheriff refuses to let the Marshal’s office arrest illegal immigrants accused of misdemeanor crimes or to track them. We have over 1,000 open warrants and pending charges that we are prevented from addressing. It’s obvious that Mr. Garber, if elected, would not only continue this policy, but if his statements are any indication -- would expand it to the point of making Lafayette Parish a de facto “sanctuary” for illegal immigrants. We just can’t let that happen.”
Pope added, Garber's efforts on the foreign television program is a sign that, as sheriff, Garber would exasperate problems of law-breaking immigrants in Acadiana.
Garber's retort included the following explanation of his dealings in Honduras:
"I was hired to represent the estate of a man who was married to a U.S. citizen in Louisiana and was killed on the job. I flew to Honduras to personally set up a trust fund for his four daughters so that money went to their education. A local TV station asked me about the laws in the United States and what rights you have at work. I never encouraged anyone to come to this country illegally. I never encouraged anyone to break any laws. That insinuation is a blatant lie."
Garber said the accusations that he was encouraging illegal immigrants to come to Louisiana to break laws are part of the marshal's efforts to "play politics."
"I hope the Marshall (sic) gets back to what he is paid to do by the taxpayers and stops wasting everyone's time with ludicrous press conferences to play politics on our dime," Garber said. "What the Marshall (sic) did today is truly a sad commentary for where politics is today."
Both Pope and Garber have agreed to join KPEL's Bernadette Lee and Brandon Comeaux Thursday morning to defend their stance on the video and its apparent significance. Pope will be interviewed at 7:10 a.m.; Garber is scheduled for 8:10 a.m.