Thursday, December 19, 2013

Alarming Rise in ICE Raids In New Orleans Communities

New Report Documents Alarming Rise of Community Immigration Raids in New Orleans
Immigrants, Community Leaders Demand End to Race-Based Deportation Program
NEW ORLEANS, December 19, 2013—A report released today by the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice (NOWCRJ) revealed an Obama Administration pilot program of race-based community immigration raids that is devastating New Orleans—and warned that it may become the “new normal” for immigrant communities nationwide.
The little-known Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) program, called the Criminal Alien Removal Initiative (CARI), involves indiscriminate community raids by ICE squads at apartment complexes, grocery stores, laundromats, Bible study groups, and other public places frequented by Latinos—based purely on racial profiling.
Download the full report: “The Criminal Alien Removal Initiative in New Orleans: The Obama Administration’s Brutal New Frontier in Immigration Enforcement.”
“As 2013 comes to a close without the passage of immigration reform, New Orleans is experiencing the new frontier in immigration enforcement: a stop and ‘stop and frisk’ program for the immigrant community,” said Saket Soni, NOWCRJ Executive Director and report co-author. “Without immediate action, the race-based raids being piloted in New Orleans will become the new normal across the country.”
“President Obama has the legal authority and moral responsibility to stop the deportations, and we’re calling on him to use it,” Soni said.
The report details how CARI dragnets have caught up workers like Juan Ramon Pena-Mendoza, a father ICE arrested while he was dropping off his 5-year-old U.S. citizen daughter at the school bus stop; Jimmy Barraza, who watched ICE agents handcuff his 16-year-old U.S. citizen stepson and throw him against a wall when the boy asked questions about his father’s arrest; and Karen Elizabeth Sandoval, a mother left to raise two children alone after ICE arrested her partner in a “driving while Latino” stop while the family was on their way to buy school supplies.
Jacinta Gonzalez, NOWCRJ Lead Immigration Organizer and report co-author, said: “Every day, ICE is terrorizing, arresting, and deporting the workers and families who helped rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. All these people have done is struggle to be reunited with their families and loved ones—or refuse to ‘self-deport’ from the communities they helped rebuild.”
Jennifer J. Rosenbaum, NOWCRJ Legal Director and report co-author, said: “ICE needs to end race-based community raids, quota-driven immigration enforcement that focuses on prior immigration history, and collaboration with local law enforcement, beginning in New Orleans.”
New Orleans’ immigrant community has already shown extraordinary bravery in coming forward to expose CARI. On November 14, 2013, more than two hundred immigrant workers and community leaders occupied the intersection of Poydras Street and Loyola Avenue in downtown New Orleans for nearly two hours, bringing traffic to a halt in front of the regional ICE office. Eighteen immigrant workers and four community leaders were arrested in an act of civil disobedience.
On December 12, U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond wrote to ICE Director John Sandweg expressing grave concerns about the recent ICE raids. Rep. Richmond's letter stated: “Profiling any race is not the American way and no one should be subject to unethical pursuit; especially not while accompanying your son at his school bus stop, while attending weekly Bible study meetings, or while purchasing food for your family at the local supermarket.”
With the Obama Administration continuing to deport immigrants at the blistering rate of 1,100 a day, the report calls on President Obama to use his executive authority to put an immediate halt to deportations.

CONTACTS: Stephen Boykewich,, 323-594-2347; Katy Green,, 650-464-1545


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