22 Arrested at Protest to End Harsh New Immigration Raids – 11/14/13

Immigrants and community leaders block road at ICE office to demand end to brutal new “CARI” program

NEW ORLEANS, November 14, 2013—At 2:30 pm CT on Thursday, 18 immigrant workers and four community leaders were arrested during civil disobedience at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office in New Orleans, demanding an end to a harsh new program of community raids by ICE that are tearing families apart and terrorizing the immigrant workers who helped rebuild New Orleans.


(See more photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/righttoremaincampaign/sets/72157637675860086/)

The workers and community leaders, members of the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice (NOWCRJ), were arrested after occupying the corner of Loyola and Poydras streets in front of the ICE office for nearly two hours.

“I’m doing this for Juan Carlos Castillo Salazar, who was arrested by ICE after he dropped off his five-year-old little girl at the school bus stop,” said Mario Mendoza Molina, a member of the Congress of Day Laborers at NOWCRJ, who was one of the 22 arrested. “I’m doing this for Irma Esperanza Lemus, who cried when ICE agents handcuffed her and took her away in front of her husband and two children.”

The protest targeted a harsh new program of community raids that ICE has piloted in New Orleans over the past year called the Criminal Alien Removal Initiative (CARI).

Under CARI, ICE squads—sometimes accompanied by local police—have been raiding apartment complexes, grocery stores, laundromats, Bible study groups, parks, and anywhere else Latinos might gather, making arrests based purely on racial profiling.

NOWCRJ executive director Saket Soni, who was also arrested engaging in civil disobedience, said: “With comprehensive immigration reform stalled, the question is what life will be like now for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in America. We believe CARI is the answer: brutal community raids based solely on racial profiling. The CARI program, piloted right here in New Orleans, needs to be stopped before it’s expanded and replicated around the country.”

Jacinta Gonzalez, lead immigration organizer at NOWCRJ, said: “We are responding to four or five CARI raids a week. ICE is arresting and deporting reconstruction workers, parents of U.S. citizen children, and youth. These raids are terrorizing the immigrant community that helped rebuild New Orleans—and deserve the right to remain here.”

Under CARI, ICE agents in New Orleans have recently arrested a father dropping off his 5-year-old U.S. citizen daughter at the school bus stop, pushed and handcuffed a 16-year-old U.S. citizen boy for asking questions about his father’s arrest, and joked about “going hunting” while driving around New Orleans in search of Latinos to handcuff and fingerprint even before questioning.

The civil disobedience is part of a national campaign, Not One More Deportation, in which immigrants and their advocates have demanded that President Obama use his administrative powers to stop deportations.


  • That ICE stop all CARI enforcement in New Orleans and halt the deportations of victims of CARI raids.
  • That ICE halt the deportations of NOWCRJ and Congress of Day Laborers worker members.
  • That ICE release information on CARI’s functioning, scope, cost, and impact.
  • That President Obama use the authority of his office to grant the right to remain for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in America and halt all deportations immediately.

CONTACT: Stephen Boykewich, spboykewich@gmail.com, 323-594-2347

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