Gustavo Barahona Resists ICE Retaliation to Continue Civil Rights Fight – 10-22-15

Contact: Jolene Elberth, NOWCRJ’s Congress of Day Laborers, jelberth@nowcrj.org, 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 confinement and being deprived of food by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) staff Wednesday as retaliation for denouncing ICE abuses.

ICE continues to speed Mr. Barahona’s deportation, schedule for early tomorrow (Friday Oct. 22) morning, in spite of clear evidence of civil rights abuses during Mr. Barahona’s arrest, continued investigations into the abuses, and a recommendation by DHS’s own civil rights staff that he be released.

Speaking by phone from the LaSalle Detention Center in Jena, Louisiana, Mr. Barahona continued to demand a response to the unconstitutional actions leading to his arrest: “I’ve been waiting for almost five months now in detention, and ICE hasn’t told me anything. Everything in here is designed so that you don’t want to fight your case—so that you can’t fight. But I won’t give up. I know I have to be strong for my children, and so this doesn’t happen to any other father in the future.”

Mr. Barahona and another immigrant worker, Jose Adan Fugon, were racially profiled and arrested by New Llano police in Leesville, Louisiana, then improperly transferred to ICE and held in custody for over 140 days. ICE deported Mr. Fugon on Tuesday, and has subjected Mr. Barahona to solitary confinement and other abuse as it has processed him for deportation.

“ICE Director Sarah Saldaña has a choice: she can confirm by deporting Mr. Barahona that racial profiling, improper detention, and civil rights abuses mean nothing to ICE, or she can listen to DHS’s own civil rights office director and release him,” said Jolene Elberth, organizer with New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice’s (NOWCRJ’s) Congress of Day Laborers.

As detailed in a newly released investigation by Vox.com, local police continue to engage in racial profiling solely to transfer undocumented immigrants into ICE custody, in spite of a proscription against the transfer of low priority individuals by DHS’s new Priority Enforcement Program. NOWCRJ has filed complaints with the Department of Justice and the New Llano Police Department over this ongoing collaboration.

ICE is planning to deport Mr. Barahona to Honduras even though his family and two young U.S. citizen children live in the United States, and he has no criminal convictions.

Meanwhile, 14 immigrant detainees at the LaSalle Detention Center in Jena, Louisiana, launched a hunger strike this week in support of South Asian asylum seekers who have been held in immigration detention for up to two years, subjected to solitary confinement and reported physical abuse.

A new report released today by the National Immigration Justice Center and the Detention Watch Network details how immigration detention centers are not safe, abuses are widespread, and detention facilities consistently fail to meet basic minimum standards.