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.