Things That Matter

ICE Has Detained A Worker Who Was Injured In The Hard Rock Hotel Collapse And Now He Could Be Deported Back To Honduras

Native Honduran Delmer Ramirez Palma, a worker injured in the deadly collapse of the Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans, has been detained for deportation after speaking with the media. The high profile building collapse seems to have exposed Ramirez to immigration authorities, at least that’s what his attorneys believe. The deadly catastrophe killed three workers and injured dozens, many of whom are suing for compensation. 

Ramirez’s detention is in the wake of the Trump administration using increasingly extreme tactics to detain undocumented immigrants, including work raids and ambushing court appearances. According to CNN, in this fiscal year alone, 800,000 migrants have been arrested for crossing the border illegally as laws that protect asylum seekers have been weakened. 

ICE maintains that Ramirez’s arrest has nothing to do with his appearance on a Spanish-language news network where he discussed the building collapse, however, Ramirez’s lawyers feel differently. 

The Hard Rock Hotel’s deadly collapse.

On October 12, an unfinished Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans collapsed killing three workers and injuring dozens. Workers have now filed a lawsuit against the companies involved in the hotel construction, claiming they were negligent and used shoddy materials that were not adequate to support the weight of the higher floors. 

According to NBC, the lawsuit claims the six plaintiffs “sustained serious injuries when the upper floors of the structure under construction began to fall apart, crumble, and collapse upon said workers present on the site.”

Among the plaintiffs is Ramirez who suffered injuries that require medical care. 

Ramirez is arrested two days after discussing the collapse on television. 

Ramirez’s lawyers, Jeremy Pichon, Eric Wright and Daryl Gray, believe it is no coincidence that he was arrested two days after speaking out about the accident on the news. While fishing Ramirez was arrested by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents in Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge. 

A Border Patrol spokeswoman said the Wildlife Service agents summoned officers to arrest Ramirez on the grounds that they saw him fishing without a license. When they asked him for identification, the spokeswoman says he was only able to present “foreign citizenship documentation.” 

According to Nola.com, Bryan Cox a regional spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement claimed it was “simply false” to suggest Ramirez’s arrest was related to his employment at the Hard Rock Hotel construction site or his appearance on a Spanish-language television news network.

Ramirez faces deportation as he awaits his fate in a detention center.

A federal immigration judge ordered Ramirez’s deportation in February 2016, according to Cox, who says he will remain in ICE custody “pending removal to his country of citizenship.” Ramirez’s attorneys believe he needs surgery for his injuries but has not had adequate medical treatment in the Louisiana detention center where he is being held. 

Gray and his colleagues say they plan to seek compensation for Ramirez’s injuries but also plan to oppose his deportation. He believes his client’s arrest was set in motion 24 hours before “making a statement about the tragic events” on the news. 

According to CNN, ICE has increasingly deported immigrants who do not have criminal records, “on Trump’s first year, for example, ICE arrested 109,000 criminals and 46,000 people without criminal records—a 171% increase in the number of non-criminal individuals arrested over 2016.”

Ramirez’s story will deter other migrant workers from seeking justice. 

The attorneys fear that Ramirez’s potential deportation will thwart other immigrants injured by the collapse from coming forward with the necessary information or seeking compensation. 

“[They] fear … being deported or some other retribution by their employers,” Gray said at a news. “Just like all Americans, however, they do have the rights that are afforded to us within this courthouse.” 

He added that “Immigrants are exploited for the growth of our great nation. And that does not have to be the case.” 

 Ramirez is joined by Juan Fiallos, Tufino Velazquez, Jorge O’Campo and Genssner Alejandro Villalobos Tejada as plaintiffs in the lawsuit. The attorneys expect more will join because so many were injured. Ramirez and the plaintiffs say they warned many individuals in charge of the potential disaster. 

According to the Washington Post, the disaster area is still hazardous with unstable cranes that could potentially topple over and cause more damage. City authorities have ordered people to leave the evacuation zone which is a four-block radius around the site. Residents have been forced to stay in relocation centers while the building is demolished. 

“We’ll find out who did this, we’ll hold them accountable, and we’re going to make sure nothing like this happens again,” Pichon said. 

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President Biden Places A 100-Day Moratorium On Deportations With New Executive Order

Things That Matter

President Biden Places A 100-Day Moratorium On Deportations With New Executive Order

Sean Rayford / Getty Images

As soon as Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States, many across the country were ready to hold him accountable for the many promises he made on the campaign trail. Knowing the immense pressure he is under to keep these promises, President Biden wasted no time in getting to work through a flurry of executive actions in his first day on the job.

From the Oval Office, President Biden issues no less than 15 executive actions that impact everything from Trump’s ‘Muslim Ban’ to LGBTQ discrimination and immigration reform.

President Biden has placed a hold on most deportations for the next 100 days.

The Department of Homeland Security announced that it would pause deportations of certain noncitizens for 100 days starting on January 22, delivering on one of President Joe Biden’s key campaign promises on immigration policy. 

The agency said in a statement that the moratorium will allow it to “review and reset enforcement priorities” after the Trump administration sought to ensure that no undocumented immigrants — including families and longtime US residents — were safe from deportation.

“The pause will allow DHS to ensure that its resources are dedicated to responding to the most pressing challenges that the United States faces, including immediate operational challenges at the southwest border in the midst of the most serious global public health crisis in a century,” the agency said.

So, who will be safe from deportation for the next 100-days under President Biden’s moratorium?

The 100-day deportation suspension applies to any noncitizen living in the interior of the United States, with some limited exceptions, not to people who recently crossed the border. Terrorists and suspected terrorists as well as anyone who engages in espionage or poses a threat to national security can still be removed, according to the memo

Also, noncitizens who entered the U.S. after Nov. 1 and people who volunteer to be removed can also be deported. The memo also says noncitizens can be removed if the director of ICE makes the determination they should be removed after consultation with other ICE officials.

The DHS memo also outlined who will be prioritized for deportation once the moratorium is over.

We’re also getting a better understanding of what will be President Biden’s enforcement priorities, which seem to reflect the president’s promises on the campaign trail that he would only deport people who have been convicted of a felony and explicitly not people with a DUI. Obama, by contrast, had deported immigrants with DUIs and minor offenses.

Most migrant advocacy groups praised the move even if they’re still raising lingering concerns.

It will give people fighting their deportation cases a chance to possibly remain in the U.S. and prevent more families from being separated while awaiting an overhaul of the immigration system including a legalization program for undocumented people that Biden has also promised, Sandra Solis, an organizer with the Phoenix-based Puente Movement, told AZ Central.

“This gives a small light at the end of the tunnel for folks of perhaps being able to fight their cases,” she said. “We are happy that right now there is a big pause but that is also where the organizing comes in where we have to put the agenda on the table of really getting more from this administration, not just the 100 days, but a pathway to citizenship.”

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Activist Couple Was Married At The Border Wall Where They First Met Six Years Ago

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Activist Couple Was Married At The Border Wall Where They First Met Six Years Ago

Alexandra Mendoza / Getty Images

With all the uncertainty and traumatic news happening around us, it’s so encouraging to hear stories like this one. And that’s exactly what this couple had in mind when deciding to have their wedding ceremony at the U.S.-Mexico border wall in Tijuana – the same spot they met six years ago.

In marrying at the border wall, these two deportees wanted to bring attention to their respective causes (they both head support groups for recent deportees) while giving hope to those who are facing deportation.

Their message for those who face the traumatic experience of deportation is that life goes on and no matter which side of the border you are on, you’ll fine love, be embraced by family, and chase your dreams.

An activist couple celebrated their marriage with a ceremony at the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

Yolanda Varona and Héctor Barajas celebrated their love for another this past weekend, in front of the wall that divides San Diego and Tijuana. The same wall that separated them from their loved ones. The same wall where they met.

The couple met six years ago to the date, on the Mexican side of Friendship Park, while defending their respective causes. Varona is an advocate for recently deported mothers while Barajas works to help recently deported veterans.

“Someone told me go to the wall and that I’d find a veteran who was also deported and maybe with him I’d be able to do the activism that I long had wanted to do,” she told the San Diego Union Tribune in an interview.

She added that the veteran kind of intimidated her with his uniform and good looks so she asked him if she could take a picture with him to help break the ice. The pair have been inseparable ever since that ‘date’ in 2014.

Having legally celebrated their marriage back in August, the couple decided to host the ceremony with family and friends at the same spot they first met.

For both, this ceremony was important to send a message of hope to other migrant families.

Credit: Alexandra Mendoza / Getty Images

In an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribue, Varona, who leads the DREAMers Moms group in Tijuana, said, “It is very symbolic because this wall separated us from our children, but it reminds us that there is life out here too and we can continue fighting from here.”

All too often the story of deportation is one of an ending. However, regardless of how traumatic and difficult the experience is, it’s important to remembre that life goes on. There is a strong community in Mexico formed from those who have been deported – and many different resources to help those readjust to their new lives.

During their special ceremony, the groom couldn’t hide his happiness. “She has always been there for me, and I want to continue to be a better person, and I know good things will come for us,” he said during their ceremony.

The couple were accompanied by friends, including members of their communities: deported mothers and veterans. The ceremony was brief, given that the beaches of Tijuana are open on reduced hours due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, there was no lack of dancing between the couple in front of the sunset.

Their activism work brought them together but they both share similar stories as well.

Varona, who lived with her family in San Diego, was deported more than a decade ago, while Barajas, a former United States Army trooper, was involved in an altercation and after serving a year and a half in prison was repatriated to his native Mexico in 2004.

Determined to return to the U.S, Varona made another attempt at living in the U.S. without documentation but she was subsequently deported again in 2010. Upon being sent back to Tijuana, she founded the support group for deported mothers.

Barajas founded the support group for deported veterans after arriving back in Tijuana. However, in 2018, he was granted a pardon by then Governor of California, Jerry Brown, and he was able to return to the U.S. to complete the naturalization process to become a U.S. citizen.

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