The New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice (NOWCRJ) highlighted two recent court wins for local day laborers and members of the Southern 32 in a press release today. One of them, Joaquin Navarro Hernandez, was profiled in a recent Gambit cover story.
Last month, New Orleans Immigration Court Judge W. Wayne Stogner said that the government's case against Navarro Hernandez was based on unreliable evidence, namely a U.S. Border Patrol arrest report that was demonstrated to be inaccurate. Stogner gave lawyers for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement one month to produce more evidence.
Last week, Navarro Hernandez's case was dismissed.
(Read NOWCRJ's full press release after the jump)
Victories for the Southern 32
New Court Rulings Reveal Troubling Pattern of Abuse by Federal Immigration Authorities
New Orleans, LA — Late last week, the New Orleans immigration court ruled in favor of yet two more members of the Southern 32 — a group of immigrants put into deportation proceedings for standing up against civil rights violations and abusive labor conditions.
The decisions add to the mounting evidence that immigration authorities in the South are acting outside of the law and flagrantly violating civil rights while Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials in Washington are defending the perpetrators.
Jennifer Rosenbaum, legal director of the New Orleans Worker Center for Racial Justice said, “The Obama Administration made a commitment to exercise discretion in favor of individuals who bring legitimate claims of labor and civil rights violations. Instead, immigration agents in the South appear to be using their ‘discretion’ to target these individuals for abuse and deportation.”
In Gerson Diaz’s case, a federal judge issued an opinion finding an initial showing of egregious fourth amendment rights violations by the Southern Regional Office of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency. Now, ICE will be forced to defend the arrests made by their agents with direct testimony and evidence from the agents themselves. The opinion states:
"From this record, it appears that the ICE agents not only unlawfully entered the house before business hours, but also failed to provide any type of announcement before suddenly entering respondent's house or room. Moreover, two of the ICE agents entered the bedroom with their guns drawn and aimed at respondent. These claims raise the question of whether the agents intentionally or deliberately violated respondent's fourth amendment rights. The Court is greatly troubled by Respondent's claims. Based on the circumstances presented, the Court finds that respondent has made a prima facie showing that the ICE agents' actions may constitute an egregious violation of his Fourth Amendment Rights."
And in the case of Joachin Navarro Hernandez, the New Orleans immigration court dismissed the immigration case against him, following a previous hearing where the court found that the arrest record provided by DHS wasn’t credible because it was inaccurate and omitted important details. This followed a finding by the federal court in separate litigation related to the border patrol raid that Mr. Navarro Hernandez had benefited the public by "facilitat[ing] public oversight of CBP's (Customs and Border patrol) enforcement of federal immigration law in the New Orleans area, both as it relates to his own case and in general."
Joaquin Navarro Hernandez, whose case was vindicated by the court said, “The Southern 32 continue to demand that DHS officials in Washington use their prosecutorial discretion to protect the Southern 32 from deportation and grant us work permits so that we can provide for our families and contribute to this country. We stood up for ourselves and our fellow workers and immigration agents are trying to deport us and lying to cover up their abuse — it isn’t right and we stand united and determined to expose the truth.”
Jennifer Rosenbaum added, “DHS officials in the Southern Regional Office originally told us that the members of the Southern 32 didn’t have evidence of their civil rights complaints and couldn’t effectively fight their own deportations. Now, the courts are telling us that it is DHS whose claims are ‘not credible’ or whose ‘egregious violation’ of rights are leading to the closure of deportation proceedings for more and more members of the Southern 32. At some point we need to ask, who is really more credible?”
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