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Yesterday, four members of the “Southern 32” appeared in New Orleans immigration court, where a judge granted them temporary relief from deportation while ICE considers their requests for prosecutorial discretion. The judge refused to move forward with their deportation cases even though the ICE lawyer arrived in court determined to press the cases forward, despite mounting calls from supporters around the country to close the cases. The judge insisted ICE take the extra time to consider the prosecutorial discretion requests even though ICE did not ask for it, and further announced that the cases might eventually be closed over ICE’s objections.
As Jacinta Gonzalez, lead organizer for the Stand Up 2012: Make Justice Real campaign, left the courtroom saying:
The immigration judge is sending a message to ICE, giving them a second chance. How many more times do they need to hear it? It’s time they actually take their own protections seriously and stop trying to deport Josue and the Southern 32.
The four who went to court, like the rest of the Southern 32, are facing deportation proceedings because they dared to stand up to abusive employers, and were punitively targeted for demanding their rights. One of the four, Josue Diaz, said as the left the court:
I knew it was wrong when were treated so unfairly and that I had to stand up. I wasn’t scared then, standing up against discrimination on the worksite and I’m not scared to stand up now for the constitution. Today, we renew our demand that ICE close deportation proceedings for me and all of the Southern 32. We are standing up for ourselves and for people across the country who defend the rights of their communities.
Jennifer Rosenbaum, Legal Director of the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice, underscored these points by reminding supporters that a policy under the Obama administration would keep workers and civil rights leaders like Josue from being deported. Unfortunately, ICE’s field offices have not always followed the directives of their parent agency. As Rosenbaum said:
The continued attempts by the Southern ICE office to push for the deportation of these grassroots labor leaders confirms they are not only failing to implement the Obama Administration’s directive, but that they are actually hostile to this policy and the workers they should be protecting.
She added, “The review period is over and we hope ICE will grant prosecutorial discretion relief to Josue and all the Southern 32 before our meeting with regional ICE leadership next week.” On Tuesday, May 15th, the Southern 32 will meeting with top officials of the Southern ICE office in New Orleans.
For more information on “Stand Up 2012: Make Justice Real,” visit www.MakeJusticeReal.org.