NEW ORLEANS WORKERS’ CENTER FOR RACIAL JUSTICE Contact: Jolene Elberth, NOWCRJ’s Congress of Day Laborers,, 504.881.6647 ICE Releases Gustavo Barahona Late Night, But ICE Director Fails to Answer Charges of Racial Profiling & Biased Policing NEW ORLEANS, LA, Oct. 26, 2015—Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released civil rights...

Contact: Jolene Elberth, NOWCRJ’s Congress of Day Laborers,, 504.881.6647 Gustavo Barahona Resists ICE Retaliation to Continue Civil Rights Fight Will ICE Director Saldaña deport racial profiling witness after DHS’s civil rights staff recommended his release? NEW ORLEANS, LA, Oct. 22, 2015—Civil rights whistleblower Gustavo Barahona reported enduring solitary...

How Loitering Laws Are (Still) Hurting Minorities

A government email raises concerns that police are using them to profile undocumented immigrants.


Oct 20, 2015

Image AP Photo/Dave Martin
Latino day laborers waiting for their next job in Metarie, Louisiana. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
The Los Angeles Times obtained a recent email exchange between the Department of Homeland Security and the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice discussing a case of possible ethnic profiling of two immigrants currently awaiting deportation. According to the Times, Jose Adan Fugon-Cano and Gustavo Barahona-Sanchez were standing outside a motel in New Llano, Louisiana, waiting for a ride to a construction job, when local police approached and arrested them for loitering. The charges were never filed. Instead, the police ran an immigration check and, upon discovering their unauthorized status, reported them to Border Patrol. In the email exchange, DHS lawyer Megan Mack expressed concern that the two men were picked up not because they were suspects in a crime or posed public safety threats, but because they looked Hispanic. (NLPD has denied this charge to the Times.) Here’s how Mack put it:
The men appear to have been arrested, transported, and detained for an extended period of time, without any local law enforcement interest in charging them with a crime, solely for an immigration check; and it seems clear that NLPD’s interest in the immigration status of the men was based on their ethnicity and the way they were awaiting pickup for a job. We believe it’s imperative that the Department, ICE, CBP avoid becoming a conduit, or an incentive, for improper profiling by local law enforcement.
The exchange brings to light how easily vague vagrancy and loitering laws can be used to round up undocumented immigrants who would otherwise not have been high on the government’s priority list for deportation.

NEW ORLEANS WORKERS’ CENTER FOR RACIAL JUSTICE Contact: Jolene Elberth, NOWCRJ’s Congress of Day Laborers,, 504.881.6647 Immigrants Demand End to Racial Profiling by Local Police NOWCRJ Demands Information and Accountability from New Llano Police Department after DHS’s own Civil Rights review finds racial profiling by Leesville police...

NEW ORLEANS — Two Honduran men face deportation even though a U.S. Department of Homeland Security staff lawyer recommended that the migrant workers be released because they were improperly arrested by Louisiana police in a case of alleged ethnic profiling.

Gustavo Barahona, 29, and Jose Adan Fugan, 36, were arrested along with three other men by New Llano police on May 29 outside a motel in the western Louisiana town as they waited to go to work early that morning.

In a Sept. 21 email inadvertently sent to the men's immigration lawyers, DHS attorney Megan H. Mack recommended releasing the men from custody because they appeared to be arrested "solely for an immigration status check."

The arrest was improper because the New Llano police appeared to target them "based on their ethnicity and the way they were awaiting pickup for a job," said Mack, the DHS officer of civil rights and civil liberties in Washington.

She reviewed the case after the men's lawyers brought it to her attention, noting they were never charged with a crime. Mack said profiling is "not a legitimate" police practice unless there are extraordinary circumstances or a threat.

After being arrested, the New Llano police called in Border Patrol agents who ran immigration checks on the men, the email said. Barahona and Fugan have been in custody ever since. The three other men were released.

CONTACT: Jolene Elberth, NOWCRJ’s Congress of Day Laborers,, 504.881.6647 Immigrants March on ICE to Stop Deportations of Civil Rights Leaders ICE races to deport civil rights leaders in spite of recommendation by DHS’s own Civil Rights staff to release them What: March on ICE headquarters to stop deportations of civil rights...

New Orleans Has a New Jobs Program. But Can It Stop Bullets?

The city council has granted the mayor’s wish requiring local hiring for city-contracted projects. Will more jobs really mean less violence?


Image REUTERS/Lee Celano
REUTERS/Lee Celano
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu is positive that one way to solve the city’s violence program is through jobs. Landrieu’s “Hire NOLA” initiative, which he introduced last month, passed through the city council on October 1. It requires companies or organizations with city contracts over $150,000 to set aside at least half of project-work hours for local residents. A special priority is placed on the homeless, the chronically unemployed, and formerly incarcerated residents—who are set to claim at least 30 percent of those hours under the new local hiring ordinance. The new policy is largely credited to the grassroots #BlackWorkersMatter-organized campaign orchestrated by the group Stand With Dignity. It’s the latest victory for Stand With Dignity’s parent organization, the New Orleans Worker Center for Racial Justice, which has been pushing for better wages and jobs in the metro region for African Americans and Latino day laborers since Hurricane Katrina. “Hire NOLA” arrives just two months after the city passed a living wage ordinance requiring city contractors to pay workers at least $10.55 hour—a 44 percent pay increase from what workers were typically earning.