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New Orleans rallies to support ICE detainees on hunger strike

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New Orleans, LA – On March 3 dozens of protesters gathered in front of the downtown New Orleans Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) field office to express solidarity with 300 ICE detainees at Lasalle Detention Center. The immigrants began a hunger strike on Monday, February 27, and the Detention Watch Network broke the news Thursday evening. Protesters united behind the strikers’ demands for their immediate release, transparency from ICE about their court cases, and access to basic hygiene necessities.

The emergency action saw progressive people from multiple organizations mobilize on less than a day’s notice in support of the strikers. Activists displayed a banner reading “Legalization 4 all” to passing cars and held signs reading “El pueblo unido jamás sera vencido.”

Speakers from the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Unión Migrante, New Orleans for Community Oversight of Police (NOCOP), and New Orleans Immigrant Rights Action (NOIRA) led chants of “Everyone in a cell has a right to rebel!” and “Say it once, say it twice, we will not put up with ICE!” 

NOIRA organizer Sebastian Miscenich expressed the need for legalization for all, saying, “from the service industry to construction, immigrants help run New Orleans. Second-class citizenship for undocumented people has to end.” 

Activists circulated a NOIRA petition demanding municipal identification cards for all residents of New Orleans, regardless of immigration status. The petition also demands that New Orleans establish an immigrants’ fund for legal defense in immigration proceedings and disaster relief. The cards would provide access to this fund for undocumented New Orleanians.

Alfredo Salazar of Unión Migrante, an immigrant workers’ group, said, “It’s shameful that these laws criminalize people who are just coming here to work and build better lives for their families.”

Serena Borne of the FRSO said, “All the politicians will say that immigrant detention is for the rule of ‘law and order.’ But law and order for who? For the imperialists! For the businesses who exploit immigrant labor one day and dispose of it the next!” 

Several interpreters made the event bilingual and accessible to both English- and Spanish-only speakers. 


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