The Times-Picayune You shouldn't have to fear arrest for too many traffic tickets: Editorial March 31, 2017 by The Times-Picayune Editorial Board Thousands of people in New Orleans are in a legal bind simply because they can't afford to pay court fines. Izell Mayes was one of those people until this month. He owed nearly $23,000 in fines stemming back to a traffic citation in 1989. His license was suspended in 1997, and what he owed kept rising. Since driving with a suspended license is grounds for arrest in New Orleans, he has feared being locked up for 20 years. The lack of a license also kept him from applying for a job with the Regional Transit Authority. But after going to the city's first Warrant Clinic in early March, his citations and fines have been forgiven. He can get a new license and apply for the job.

The Times Picayune Immigrants make New Orleans a much stronger community March 29, 2017 by Bill Quigley and Audrey Stewart We all work hard to make New Orleans succeed. But there's one group of friends and neighbors we can't do without. They contribute $7.6 billion to the greater New Orleans metropolitan area's economy. They pay $73.8 million in state and local taxes, plus $213.2 million in federal taxes. They're nearly twice as likely to own their own businesses as the average New Orleanian, with their businesses generating $174 million in income in 2014 alone. That group is our fellow New Orleanians who were born in another country. The city of New Orleans released a report last week called "New Americans in Greater New Orleans: A Snapshot of the Demographic and Economic Contributions of Immigrants in the Metropolitan Area." It demonstrates with data what we already know from our families, neighborhoods, workplaces and communities of faith: immigrants and refugees in New Orleans are a vibrant part of our city's economy, culture and strength.

New Orleans has survived far worse than Trump's threat to withhold federal grants.

They come from a variety of countries -- Honduras, Vietnam, Mexico, Nicaragua and India are the top five. They are working in a variety of sectors, including food processing, construction, manufacturing, professional services and tourism, whether as employees of local businesses, self-employed, or as business owners themselves. More than a quarter of New Orleans' "main street" businesses are owned by immigrants.
Most foreign-born New Orleanians are long-term residents: more than 64 percent of them have been in the United States for more than 10 years. And they help keep jobs here that our community needs. The report estimates that in 2014 alone, immigrants helped create or preserve 4,285 local manufacturing jobs that we otherwise wouldn't have.
Despite the contributions the report details, many immigrants and refugees in the metro area report living in constant fear --especially at a time when the Trump administration is criminalizing and demonizing them en masse for political gain. They worry about being subjected to racial profiling and arrested by immigration enforcement simply for going about their daily lives: dropping their children off for school, going to work, their place of worship, or the grocery store.

The Times-Picayune "$23,000 in traffic fines reduced to $9 for man as pilot program takes on New Orleans' court system" March 29, 2017 by David Grunfeld Izell Mayes says he can't remember the infraction that first earned him a fine in New Orleans traffic court back in 1989. All he remembers is he couldn't afford to pay it. So he missed court dates, a lot of them, and over the ensuing years, he racked up more tickets and tallied nearly $23,000 in additional fines and penalties. Mayes, whose license was suspended in 1997, says driving to work was a terrifying, daily experience, with every police car representing the threat of being pulled over, handcuffed and thrown in jail. Not able to pay even a fraction of his court balance, Mayes says he resigned himself to the risk of imprisonment every time he got behind the wheel. Then he heard about the Warrant Clinic, an event held in early March by Orleans Parish municipal and traffic court officials to help two groups of people: the nearly 30,000 people in the city who have outstanding warrants for missing court dates related to minor offenses - such as trespassing or public intoxication. And the countless number of people, like Mayes, saddled with thousands of dollars in traffic-related fines that resulted in the suspension of their driver's licenses, but can't afford to pay to break the cycle.

NEW ORLEANS, March 8, 2017—Human rights defender and post-Katrina reconstruction worker José Gómez defied Donald Trump’s deportation machine today at a check-in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), supported by fellow members of NOWCRJ’s Congress of Day Laborers and faith and community allies. Though Gómez had...