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.