WWL-TV November 16, 2017 Salvadoran man fearing deportation seeks sanctuary in Mid-City church by Lauren Bale A construction worker from El Salvador who fears being deported to his violent home county said Wednesday he will seek sanctuary in a Mid-City church. Jose Torres, 31, was supposed to appear at a check-in with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office. Instead, he said, he plans to live inside First Grace United Methodist Church in Mid-City indefinitely to avoid being separated from his daughters, who are 2 and 8, and his wife who are United States citizens. Torres said he entered the country illegally by swimming across the Rio Grande into Texas in 2005. He moved to the New Orleans area shortly after Hurricane Katrina and has lived here since. "I have worked and sweated in this city, shoulder to shoulder with my brother and sister immigrants to rebuild New Orleans," Torres said.

The Times-Picayune November 16, 2017 Immigrant takes sanctuary in New Orleans church, first to do so in Louisiana by Maria Clark
Torres, a Salvadorian and father of two U.S. born children, has lived in the country since he was 18 years old. He was expected to check-in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement Wednesday morning. "I packed my suitcase yesterday before taking her to school", he said in Spanish speaking about his older daughter, Julissa, 8. "When she came home she called me and asked, 'Why weren't you there to pick me up?' "I told her, 'I am fighting to stay with you,'" Torres said.

The New Orleans Advocate November 15, 2017 Salvadoran native plans to live inside Mid-City New Orleans church to avoid deportation by Matt Sledge Fearing deportation to a native country wracked by violence, an El Salvadoran construction worker announced Wednesday he is seeking sanctuary at a New Orleans church. Jose Torres was scheduled to appear at a check-in with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Wednesday morning. Instead, he said he plans to live inside First Grace United Methodist Church in Mid-City indefinitely, hoping to avoid being separated from his two young daughters, who are U.S. citizens. “I have decided to take sanctuary because I have two babies who need me," he said. "They're destroying me totally as the father of a family. I feel terrible — they're removing me from my daughters' lives. That is why I am fighting against these injustices.”

Democracy Journal "Charged for Justice in New Orleans" October 12, 2017 by Mathilde Laisne It’s a Saturday. The line winds around the block. People have been waiting for hours to get in. Inside, the hallways are crowded and the air is tense. The people who are walking out, though, are smiling. They look both surprised and relieved. They’re not here for the latest iPhone or some new trendy brunch place; they’re here for a warrant clinic. And yet we’re not in court but in a church building in the 7th Ward neighborhood of New Orleans. People from all over the city have waited all day to see a judge and clear a warrant that’s been hanging over their heads for months, often years. Almost every person who’s come in today is black. For one man who walked out the door, it meant turning an overwhelming $23,000 in accumulated traffic fines and interest into a single $9 payment. The clinic, put together by a grassroots organization called Stand with Dignity, as well as the Municipal and Traffic Court of New Orleans, the City Attorney’s office, and Orleans Public Defenders is an astounding success. In just one day, over 1,000 people came to get a warrant cleared. Most of these warrants were issued for a missed court date to pay the fines and fees attached to their case. The judges who dedicated their entire day to the clinic waived hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and fees and dealt with the underlying case, if possible. Attendees were promised they would not get arrested if they came to the clinic, and not a single person was.

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.

Council passes Mayor Landrieu’s HireNOLA initiative, though questions abound BY JESSICA WILLIAMS| JWILLIAMS@THEADVOCATE.COM The New Orleans City Council on Thursday unanimously backed Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s push to get more local and disadvantaged workers hired on city projects, though questions remain about how the mayor’s policy will play out in practice. The program, dubbed Hire NOLA, is part of the city’s Economic Opportunity Strategy, launched last year in response to an unemployment rate among the city’s working-age African-American men that one recent study pegged at 52 percent. Under the policy, businesses with applicable city contracts must first turn to the city’s Office of Workforce Development to find new hires. They must make “good-faith efforts” to award hours to local and disadvantaged workers, with the ultimate goal of having half of all hours go to local workers, and 30 percent of all hours go to disadvantaged workers.