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New Orleans Immigration Advocates Protesting Supreme Court Ruling

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Eileen Fleming

Immigration advocates in New Orleans say the Supreme Court’s ruling this week on immigration policy will lead to racial profiling. The Congress of Day Laborers is reaching out to minority leaders for support.

The Supreme Court left intact the right of law enforcement to check immigration status of people stopped for other reasons. To members of a group known as the Southern 32 — named for immigrants claiming labor and civil rights violations — that requirement means unlawful detainment. About two dozen protesters gathered in front of the federal courthouse in New Orleans to challenge what they see as racial profiling resulting from immigration holds. Lead organizer Jacinta Gonzalez says the high court ruling has a chilling effect for those complaining of dangerous and unfair working conditions.

“What’s going to happen when someone in Arizona or Alabama or Louisiana says ‘Wait a minute. That’s racial profiling. I want to file a complaint.’ Are they going to get retaliated against and put in deportation proceedings, or will they (be) allowed to stay here and fight for their labor and civil rights?”

New Orleans State Representative Wesley Bishop says immigrants helped rebuild the city after Hurricane Katrina, and they deserve fair treatment.

“Because I happen to be a black man, and I know how difficult it is often times for members of my community to be able to get jobs, anything that serves as a barrier to helping someone to being gainfully employed, I will always stand against, whether it’s black or brown or white or whatever the case may be.”   

Gonzalez says workers’ complaints are pending with Homeland Security’s civil rights division while their own deportation hearings are being scheduled with immigration officials.

Eileen is a news reporter and producer for WWNO. She researches, reports and produces the local daily news items. Eileen relocated to New Orleans in 2008 after working as a writer and producer with the Associated Press in Washington, D.C. for seven years.

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