After Supreme Court Decision, Immigrants to Rally & Demand Halt to All Deportations

NEW ORLEANS, June 23, 2016—Immigrant workers and family members in New Orleans demanded a halt to all deportations following today’s Supreme Court decision blocking President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

NOWCRJ immigrant members and allies will rally at the Fifth Circuit Court in New Orleans (600 Camp Street) at 5pm CT Thursday.

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“This decision is personal for us,” said Saket Soni, Executive Director of the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice (NOWCRJ) and National Guestworker Alliance (NGA). “This case moved to the Supreme Court from the Fifth Circuit courthouse here in New Orleans—a city that hundreds of our members rebuilt with their own hands after Hurricane Katrina. They deserve the right to remain in the communities they rebuilt for all New Orleanians. All 11 million immigrant workers and family members around the U.S. deserve the same. The Supreme Court rejected legal precedent, solid public policy, and basic common sense today, and set our whole country back.”

NOWCRJ Immigration Organizer Fernando Lopez said, “The governors who sued to stop President Obama’s executive actions put racism and fear ahead of immigrants’ right to remain in the communities they helped build. The President’s action was a response to a powerful social movement. That movement will continue to push back on the criminalization of our communities, and fight to win full rights.”

“”If the Supreme Court will not unfreeze DAPA and DACA, President Obama must freeze deportations,” Lopez said.

Immigrant members of NOWCRJ’s Congress of Day Laborers who would have been eligible for DAPA will be available for interview by telephone and at the 5pm CT rally.

CONTACT: Fernando Lopez, NOWCRJ Immigration Organizer, (504) 258-1000, flopez@nowcrj.org

On Eve of Supreme Court Immigration Decision, Immigrant Families Face Father’s Day Crisis

On Eve of Supreme Court Immigration Decision, Immigrant Families Face Father’s Day Crisis

NOWCRJ launches Father’s Day Beyond Borders in response

NEW ORLEANS, June 16, 2016—On the eve of a Supreme Court decision on President Obama’s executive immigration action—and on the eve of Father’s Day—Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is continuing to tear apart families by targeting immigrants with misdemeanor records, regardless of family needs and Department of Homeland Security guidelines.

In response, NOWCRJ’s Congress of Day Laborers has launched the Father’s Day Beyond Borders campaign.

Jose Torres is a father of two from El Salvador who came to New Orleans as a post-Katrina reconstruction worker in 2006. Jose has 2 U.S. citizen daughters, the youngest of whom, Kimberly, has a life-threatening neurological disorder that requires constant care.

In spite of this, ICE has detained Jose and is planning to deport him imminently because of an isolated 2013 DUI—even though Jose paid all fines in full, completed probation, performed community service hours, and attended substance abuse counseling.

“He’s our superman,” said Jose’s wife, Deiny Franco. “He’s always been a responsible father. He faced his mistake and it made him a better person. I don’t know how we will manage without him.” Ms. Franco is extremely concerned about her ability to afford essential and life-supporting medications for her infant daughter.

Inspired by a letter that Jose’s 7 year-old daughter, Julissa, wrote for her father, NOWCRJ’s Congress of Day Laborers has launched the Father’s Day Beyond Borders campaign to collect Father’s Day cards for Jose and other fathers facing deportation, as well as to raise awareness about the consequences of the United States’ immigration detention system, which is the largest in the world.

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Supporters will tweet and post under the hashtag #DearDad, as well as submit cards directly to the campaign website: FathersDayBeyondBorders.com.

“The Department of Homeland Security’s own criteria state that misdemeanors like DUIs should be weighed against other factors, especially family needs,” said Fernando Lopez, NOWCRJ Immigration Organizer. “President Obama is responsible for ICE continuing to tear apart families like Jose’s through deportations.”

Jose’s situation is indicative of a wider trend of local ICE offices disregarding national guidelines, which direct DHS officials to consider “compelling humanitarian guidelines such as poor health, age, pregnancy, a young child, or a seriously ill relative.” In Jose’s case, local ICE officers did not acknowledge Jose’s infant daughter or her illness in their decision to move forward with the deportation process.

“Jose’s case clearly shows that ICE is prioritizing politics and criminalization over child welfare or public safety,” said Chloe Sigal, NOWCRJ Immigration Organizer.

CONTACT: Fernando Lopez, NOWCRJ Immigration Organizer, (504) 258-1000, flopez@nowcrj.org

Stand with Dignity Expresses Support for Governor John Bel Edwards’ Executive Order That Will Help SNAP Recipients Find Good Jobs – 4/21/16

NEW ORLEANS, April 21, 2016 – On Thursday, April 21, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards released an executive order that creates a plan for SNAP recipients to be supported in finding good jobs. Below is a statement by Latoya Lewis, Organizer of NOWCRJ’s Stand with Dignity on the order:

“Stand with Dignity works every day to address the crisis of unemployment that low-income people and people of color face. Gov. Edwards’ order is a critical step towards addressing barriers to employment and building career ladders for people who have been excluded from work across Louisiana.  As Governor Edwards states, this Executive Order recognizes the daily challenges of individuals surviving on government benefits and seeks to address these issues through programing that leads to meaningful and sustainable employment. We look forward to working closely with the Governor to build and implement a plan that will expand job access and build careers in permanent and justly paid jobs for Louisianans who have been locked out of the formal economy.”

Contact: Colette Tippy, ctippy@nowcrj.org504-881-6550

HANO looking to expand options to people with criminal records – WWL – 3/28/16

WWL

HANO looking to expand options to people with criminal records

March 28, 2016

By Wynton Yates

NEW ORLEANS — The Housing Authority of New Orleans may be changing rules Tuesday to offer housing options to ex-offenders but not without pushback from activist groups.

In August, Marlene Kennedy returned to New Orleans after serving five years in prison in St. Gabriel.

“My charges were always shoplifting” explained Kennedy.

After serving her time now she faces a different problem.

“I don’t know where I’m going to sleep tonight,” Kennedy said.

With nowhere to call home Kennedy is among the city’s population with a criminal record unable to get placed in housing.

Last week The Housing Authority of New Orleans loosened policies that were blocking ex-offenders out of public housing.

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At activists’ urging, HANO revises draft policy on accepting applicants with criminal records – New Orleans Advocate – 3/28/16

The New Orleans Advocate

At activists’ urging, HANO revises draft policy on accepting applicants with criminal records

March 28, 2016

by Jessica Williams

The Housing Authority of New Orleans is seeking to extend a policy that would make it easier for people with limited rap sheets to live in public housing.

The change would make the criminal background screening procedures HANO is proposing to use for its own units mandatory for the private entities that now manage a majority of the authority’s properties.

If the changed plans are approved by the HANO board, it would be a victory for activists who clamored for that modification last week, saying that an older proposal didn’t do enough to afford ex-offenders an opportunity to be reunited with their families.

 

The authority unveiled the new plans on Friday, days after activists staged a protest in front of its Touro Street headquarters and filled every seat in its board meeting room at a boisterous public hearing.

The original proposal, touted as a way to end barriers keeping many ex-offenders out of public housing, said HANO would weigh applicants’ convictions against a set of screening criteria for public and Section 8 housing. Depending on the nature and date of those convictions, officials would either admit the applicants or send their cases to a three-member panel for closer review.

Crimes that would warrant the panel’s review include convictions for armed robbery, homicide, kidnapping and several others.

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Ten Things to Know in New Orleans This Week – Gambit – 3/28/16

Gambit

I-10: Ten Things to Know in New Orleans This Week, March 29, 2016

March 28, 2016

1. Nagin subject of CNBC’s AMERICAN GREED
The CNBC documentary series American Greed has its season premiere March 31 with an installment titled “Ray Nagin: New Orleans Shakedown.” The hourlong report, which begins at 9 p.m., will focus on Nagin’s business dealings, including those with now-disgraced and jailed former tech whiz Greg Meffert. Also in the story: Stone Age Granite & Marble, the granite company Nagin ran with his sons. Nagin, who was convicted on federal corruption charges in February 2014, is serving a 10-year prison term in Texarkana, Texas.

2. Endorsements, and spoof endorsements
“I am really, really irritated by these people who think they are smarter than the American people. … I want to see the American people heard and I want to see Donald Trump president.” — Former U.S. Rep. Bob Livingston, expressing his support for the leading GOP presidential contender.

Meanwhile, the Baton Rouge-based parody website The Red Shtick (www.theredshtick.com) had a story titled “GOP Establishment Hoping to Stop Trump With Bobby Jindal’s Endorsement of Trump.” The spoof story quoted a Republican National Committee spokesman as saying, “We’re hoping Gov. Jindal’s notorious kiss-of-death endorsement will finally undermine Trump’s seemingly indefatigable popularity.”

3. A step closer to REAL ID
The Louisiana Senate Transportation Committee last week approved Senate Bill 227, which would bring state identification cards into compliance with federal “REAL ID” standards, which have been in place since 2005 in an effort to fight terrorism. Previous bills have been attempted, but former Gov. Bobby Jindal and some Republican legislators fought the move, saying it opens the door to invasion of privacy. SB 227 would make REAL ID-compliant licenses available upon request, and has the backing of Gov. John Bel Edwards. Louisianans without REAL ID licenses eventually will need a passport or other identification to board domestic flights and to access federal buildings.

4. Spring concert schedule overflowing
New Orleans’ spring concert calendar is starting to fill up as the 2016 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival approaches.

The Roots, the long-running hip-hop outfit (and house band for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon) will perform a guest-filled tribute concert to the late Hot 8 Brass Band saxophonist Clarence “Trixzey” Slaughter at The Orpheum Theater April 29. Warren Haynes, Don Was, John Medeski and others join a tribute to The Band’s The Last Waltz at the Saenger Theatre on April 30.

The Saenger’s Jazz Fest lineup also includes a Janis Joplin tribute (April 18), The Smashing Pumpkins with Liz Phair (April 22) and Trombone Shorty (April 23). The Orpheum Theater has Chick Corea and Bela Fleck (April 16), The Meters (April 22), The Revivalists (April 23), Big Chief Donald Harrison Jr. (April 26) and Galactic with JJ Grey & Mofro (April 30).

5. Big change for public housing up for vote this week
The Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) is set to approve new rules that would allow people with criminal records into public housing, which can be a crucial part of re-entry post-incarceration. Local housing advocates, however, fear third-party property managers and landlords may interpret the language in the measure as optional, not mandatory.

The proposed measure, set for a HANO board vote March 29, allows people convicted of crimes such as armed robbery and murder to receive public housing assistance, pending approval from a three-member panel. (Currently, families with household members who have been convicted of a crime can be turned away following a criminal background check.) Language in the proposed rule changes doesn’t make the rules expressly mandatory. Members of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center, New Orleans Workers Center for Racial Justice, Stand With Dignity and Voice of the Ex-Offender, among others, are demanding HANO revise the proposed policy to apply not only to direct-run HANO sites but also to private developers who receive federal funding for affordable housing.

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HANO unveils proposed rules on admitting tenants with criminal records – New Orleans Advocate – 3/6/16

The New Orleans Advocate

HANO unveils proposed rules on admitting tenants with criminal records

March 6, 2016

by Jessica Williams

Nearly three years after announcing its intention to drop barriers keeping residents with criminal records out of public housing, the Housing Authority of New Orleans has unveiled specific rules that will ease the way for less serious offenders.

New policy language adopted in 2013 prohibited officials from excluding applicants based solely on criminal background checks, except when federal law demands it.

The draft guidelines the agency announced last month, however, for the first time outline just how HANO and its partners will vet applicants with checkered pasts. Agency officials hope to present the rules to the HANO board of commissioners for consideration this month.

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After community action, NOPD ends collusion with ICE on immigration policing – 2/23/16

NEW ORLEANS, February 23, 2016—In a victory for New Orleans’ immigrant communities, the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) announced today it is adopting a bias-free immigration policing policy that will end NOPD collusion with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

(Download the new policy – PDF, 4 pages.)

Organizers and immigrant members of the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice’s (NOWCRJ’s) Congress of Day Laborers had long pressed the NOPD to adopt a bias-free policing policy, documenting rampant civil and human rights violations against immigrant communities that resulted from NOPD-ICE collusion.

“Our communities fought for this policy, and we’re celebrating it today,” said Santos Alvarado, a member of the Congress of Day Laborers. “It’s going to improve relations between NOPD and immigrant communities, and it’s going to make all our communities safer by making police more accountable. This is a model policy we will be fighting for other parishes to adopt across Louisiana.”

NOWCRJ Immigration Organizer Jolene Elberth said, “NOPD’s bias-free policing policy is one of best in the country. It’s a big first step toward police accountability at a time when Black Lives Matters and others are building a national movement for more accountable law enforcement. ICE has been recognized as the largest unaccountable law enforcement agency in the U.S. Any police force that wants to move toward accountability—and make its communities more safe—should start by ending collusion with ICE.”

The new policy, which goes into effect on February 28, 2016, will improve community relations by allowing all New Orleanians, regardless of immigration status, interact with NOPD without fear that their immigration status will be used as a weapon against them.

“New Orleans is now the first city in the country where both the sheriff and the local police force recognize that voluntary submission to ICE is bad policy for the community, and have put policies in place to keep ICE out of city law enforcement,” said NOWCRJ Immigration Organizer Fernando Lopez.

Since Hurricane Katrina, NOWCRJ has monitored and documented NOPD’s collusion with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in unconstitutional, race-based community raids that created a citywide human and civil rights crisis. The collusion continued even after NOWCRJ’s 2013 exposé of systematic civil and constitutional violations in ICE’s Criminal Alien Removal Initiative (CARI), which led to a Congressional inquiry and front-page coverage in the New York Times. NOWCRJ’s advocacy of bias-free policing won the support of New Orleans City Council in March 2015, paving the way for the new NOPD policy.

CONTACT: NOWCRJ Immigration Organizer Fernando Lopez, flopez@nowcrj.org, (504) 258-1000.