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Gustavo Barahona-Sanchez, Racially Profiled by Louisiana Police, Released By ICE

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Important news over the weekend, via The Los Angeles Times:

A Honduras man arrested by Louisiana police in what one government lawyer said was a case of racial profiling has been released by immigration officers.

Gustavo Barahona-Sanchez, who is in the U.S. illegally, was released from LaSalle Detention Facility by Immigration and Customs Enforcement late Friday, according to agency spokesman Bryan D. Cox. He must report to immigration authorities and still may face removal, Cox said.

On Friday, America’s Voice Education Fund issued a strong statement  about the shortcomings at ICE, focusing on Gustavo’s case and that of Jose Adan Fugon-Cano, who was also racially profiled, yet deported by ICE. The AVEF statement highlighted a powerful editorial in The New York Times, Wrongly Profiled and Deported, which stated, among other things, “ICE should cut all ties with law-enforcement agencies that engage in racial profiling.”

We are glad that ICE made the right call in Gustavo’s case.  Unfortunately, as noted, Jose was deported and that was unjust.  We hold DHS officials to their word on the priorities memo — it’s a balancing test, not a checklist — and for them to prove they really get it we’ll need to see more examples like this.

The New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice does amazing work and this is particularly true on the racially profiling of Gustavo and Jose. Here’s the organization’s full statement following Gustavo’s release:

ICE Releases Gustavo Barahona Late Night, But ICE Director Fails to Answer Charges of Racial Profiling & Biased Policing

NEW ORLEANS, LA, Oct. 26, 2015—Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released civil rights whistleblower Gustavo Barahona from immigration detention late night Friday after holding him for nearly 150 days and scheduling him for deportation. ICE continued to remain silent, however, on the racial profiling and civil rights violations faced by Barahona and another immigrant worker, Jose Adan Fugon, who was deported last week.

“I am glad to have my freedom, but I still don’t have any answers.” Mr. Barahona said after being reunited with his family outside the LaSalle Immigration Detention Center in Jena, Louisiana. “We waited for 5 months in detention for our case to be investigated, only to have ICE to rush to deport us. Jose Adan must be reunited with his family, and ICE should be held accountable for cooperating with racial profiling and refusing to follow its own guidelines.”

The detention of Barahona and Fugon brought national attention and condemnation, including coverage by the LA Times and from the editorial board of the New York Times, after the release of emails from the Department of Homeland Security’s own Civil Rights Office to ICE Director Sarah Saldaña, which acknowledged that the workers had been racially profiled by local police, and recommended that they be released.

“ICE must be accountable to the deeper civil rights issues exposed by these cases,” said Jolene Elberth, Organizer with NOWCRJ’s Congress of Day Laborers. “Jose Adan must be returned to his family and Sec. Saldana must explain ICE’s actions in these cases and the civil rights protections in place within the agency, including implementation of ICE’s victims memo.”

Mr. Barahona and Mr. Fugon, were racially profiled and arrested by New Llano Police in Leesville, Louisiana, then improperly transferred to ICE and held in custody for months. ICE deported Mr. Fugon to Honduras on October 20, and subjected Mr. Barahona to solitary confinement and other abuses as it processed him for deportation ahead of his late-night release on October 23.

NOWCRJ has filed complaints with the Department of Justice and the New Llano Police Department over the collaboration between ICE and local police. NOWCRJ’s Congress of Day Laborers is planning a delegation to New Llano next week to demand a response to its complaint and public records requests and to urge the New Llano police department to adopt a bias-free policing policy.