Human Rights Defender in New Orleans Defies Trump’s Deportation Machine

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 been granted a reprieve from deportation in the form of prosecutorial discretion by the Obama administration in December 2016, ICE revoked the decision without explanation last week and summoned Gómez to a check-in today.

Jose rally photo

Gómez chose to attend the check-in rather than being forced into hiding. He has also filed legal papers to request another halt to his deportation and another review of his unconstitutional arrest.

“I went into mouth of the wolf today, knowing it was very possible that I might be deported,” Gómez said. “But I went in with my head held high as a proud member of the Congress of Day Laborers. I want to say to everyone: Don’t let anyone, including ICE agents, stomp on you. Don’t let yourselves be separated from your families and children. We’re human beings and we deserve respect.”

The Obama administration granted Gómez prosecutorial discretion based on his longtime work as a voice for justice in New Orleans, speaking publicly against unconstitutional actions by ICE and local law enforcement and labor violations by local employers.

Gómez gained national recognition for his civic activism as a member of the Southern 32: 32 grassroots civil, labor, and human rights defenders from New Orleans who faced deportation for standing up to expose civil and labor rightsviolations by employers, law enforcement, or Department of Homeland Security agents.

“Trump’s cruel and senseless executive orders on immigration have criminalized voices for justice like José’s—along with the entire undocumented population of 11 million workers and family members in the U.S.,” said Chloe Sigal, NOWCRJ Immigration Organizer. “Nothing has changed in the lives or actions of José and his fellow community members since the Obama administration. But Trump’s decision to exploit the politics of fear and hatred has criminalized them and every undocumented immigrant in America.”

In spite of a wave of terrifying workplace and community raids by the Trump administration, immigrant leaders with NOWCRJ’s Congress of Day Laborers are not giving in to fear. They will be fighting to expand New Orleans’ policies separating immigration enforcement from law enforcement across the state of Louisiana, gearing up to block expected anti-immigration legislation in the Louisiana state legislature, and continuing to work with local clergy on expanding community solidarity and sanctuary.

CONTACT: Audrey Stewart, astewart@nowcrj.org, 504-655-2092