Monday, April 30, 2012

New Orleans Workers’ Center Calls on Janet Napolitano to Stop Deporting Labor Organizers and Civil Rights Defenders in the South

From our friends at the New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice:
Hundreds at Local Rally Will Call for ICE to Grant Legal Status to Southern 32 for Standing Up to Abusive Employers and Law Enforcement

On Tuesday, May 1, hundreds will gather at New Orleans City Hall to join the New Orleans Workers’ Center in launching Stand Up 2012, a new campaign to demand that Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano follow her agency’s own directive, and stop deporting those who stand up to defend their civil, labor, and human rights.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency is now undergoing a review of the over 3,000 deportation cases from the southern states of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee currently pending in the regional New Orleans immigration court. Among the caseload are thirty-two leaders from the Congress of Day Laborers, all of whom are facing deportation because they had the courage to demand their most basic rights -- to be paid for the work they did, to end discrimination in the worksite, to be released from illegal jailing without cause. The New Orleans Workers’ Center demands that ICE use its prosecutorial discretion to grant dignity, stability, and economic security to the Southern 32. This must include a permanent end to their deportation cases, and end to all ICE monitoring, and permission to work so they can go on with their lives and provide for their families.

The Obama Administration has deported a record number of immigrants in its first three years in office. Facing an unprecedented outcry from the immigrant community, the Administration announced a more moderate deportation policy last year. The policy rightly states that people “pursuing legitimate civil rights complaints” should not be targeted for deportation in order “to avoid deterring individuals from “pursuing actions to protect their civil rights.”

Unfortunately, Janet Napolitano has not ensured the policy reaches the streets and workplaces of the South—where immigrants regularly face exploitation and abuse of power by employers and law enforcement and a fear of deportation blocks enforcement of federal civil, labor, and human rights laws.

With Stand Up 2012, leaders of Congress of Day Laborers and the New Orleans Workers’ Center demand justice for the Southern 32 and leaders will describe what is next for this growing movement in the South to put an end to Napolitano’s practice of jailing and deporting labor organizers and civil rights defenders for having the courage to speak out.

Among the speakers will be Jose Monterubio, a day laborer who ICE is trying to deport to block a civil rights complaint after he shed light on abuse and violations of the constitution; and Delmy Palencia, a mother who faced imprisonment by ICE after she challenged the unconstitutional actions of the local sherriff.

The demonstration will begin Tuesday, May 1, at 12:00pm at 901 North Rampart St. At 2:00pm, protesters will rally at the steps of City Hall, 1300 Perdido St.

The New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice defends the bedrock constitutional, civil, and labor rights of immigrant workers and their families the Gulf Coast. The Center represents workers in federal court and in government investigations.

The Congress of Day Laborers is a grassroots membership organization of immigrant workers and their families, many of whom helped rebuild the city after Hurricane Katrina. Members of the Congress are grassroots labor leaders and civil rights defenders who are shining a light on abuse.

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