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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ICE Illegally Arrested A Man On Church Grounds After Allegedly Lying To Him To Coax Him Out

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ICE Illegally Arrested A Man On Church Grounds After Allegedly Lying To Him To Coax Him Out

Smith Gado / Getty Images

Across the country, dozens of undocumented immigrants have sought refuge at churches, where they are typically safe from immigration enforcement.

However, as ICE escalates its attacks on the immigrant community, churches and other sensitive places of refuge may no longer be the ‘safe spaces’ they once were.

ICE has allegedly arrested a man who was inside of a church and they lied to get him out.

Last week, six ICE agents entered an undocumented migrant’s home (located on church property) and now that man is in a Georgia detention center. Binsar Siahaan, 52 (from Indonesia), was told that there was a problem with the GPS monitor he had to wear and that they needed to take him to an ICE office in Silver Springs, MD.

“As soon as he stepped outside, they handcuffed him,” taking him first to Baltimore and then to Georgia. He was not given anything to eat for two days, Rev. Scroggins said through tears. She said, “He is being abused. He is not well,” adding, “The way he is being treated is absolutely appalling.”

Siahaan currently is being held in the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Ga. and may be deported to his native Indonesia. He has been in the United States since 1989, coming here on a visa to work as a driver for the Indonesian Embassy. He overstayed the terms of the visa and then was denied asylum, because he did not apply on time.

But in Siahaan’s case, at the time they moved into the house on church grounds in January, they had no reason to fear ICE would come after them. They moved in to help take care of the church, which they have been attending for about six years.

Siahaan’s attorney and clergy at Glenmont United Methodist are rallying to stop Siahaan’s deportation, accusing ICE of breaching its own protocol by arresting him on church property under false pretenses and while his appeals are still pending.

The church where it happened is urging ICE to release the man – who is still in custody.

Leaders of the United Methodist Church – where the arrest occurred – have called for ICE to release Siahaan. They also called on ICE to state publically that it will uphold its policy of not entering sensitive locations, which includes “churches, synagogues, mosques or other institutions of worship, such as buildings rented for the purpose of religious services,” according to an ICE 2011 memorandum

“We are gravely concerned,” said Rev. Susan Henry-Crowe, general secretary of the general board of the Church and Society of the United Methodist Church. “Church grounds are sacred.” She said the government was “in complicity to sin” if it won’t protect immigrants.

Rev. Kara Scroggins, pastor of the Glenmont church where Binsar has been a member for six years, called Siahaan “one of the most devoted, loyal and generous persons I know.” He helps out at the church constantly and usually is the first to arrive and the last to leave, she said.

This is hardly the first time ICE has conducted similar operations.

Credit: Smith Gado / Getty Images

An immigrant who sought refuge from deportation in a North Carolina church, staying there for 11 months, was arrested in 2018 after arriving at an appointment with immigration officials.

The arrest led to protests and the arrest of some supporters of Samuel Oliver-Bruno, the 47-year-old Mexican national who, according to an ICE news release, was detained at a Raleigh-area immigration office.

An advocacy group, Alerta Migratoria NC, said in a statement Oliver-Bruno went to have fingerprints taken so he could apply to stay in North Carolina with his wife and son. This is when ICE stopped in to make the arrest.

He had been living in CityWell United Methodist Church in Durham since late 2017, to avoid the reach of immigration officers, who generally avoid making arrests at churches and other sensitive locations.

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Court Says That ICE Needs To Follow The Constitution When Making Arrests And Here’s Why That’s Such A Big Deal

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Court Says That ICE Needs To Follow The Constitution When Making Arrests And Here’s Why That’s Such A Big Deal

Gerald Herbert / Getty Images

In what many are calling a landmark decision, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals just handed a major victory to migrant’s rights advocates. Although the major ruling seems simple on paper, it has major legal implications and could truly change the way that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrest undocumented immigrants.

However, the decision is likely to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court – where it would face an uncertain legal future given the possible future makeup of the nation’s highest court.

The 9th Circuit Court just issued a landmark legal decision that could greatly affect ICE arrests.

Credit: Eric Risberg / Getty Images

Long-standing rules for arresting migrants may soon need to change, thanks to a recent ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The court says that ICE needs to align its arresting and detention procedures with those of all other law enforcement agencies in the country, which are guided by rules within the U.S. constitution. When police arrest people for suspected crimes, the constitution requires them to show probable cause to a judge within 48 hours. But ICE does not do that. When ICE arrests people, it typically holds them for weeks before any judge evaluates whether ICE had a valid legal basis to make the arrest.

But ICE’s policies may no longer be legal.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the usual constitutional rules that apply to normal police all over the country also apply to ICE. “The Fourth Amendment requires a prompt probable cause determination by a neutral and detached magistrate,” the court said. This really shouldn’t be a big deal. Prompt independent review by a judge of whether the government has a legal basis to take away a person’s freedom is an essential safeguard against tyranny.

ICE’s arrest and detention policies have long come under scrutiny for seemingly skirting constitutional rules.

Credit: Joseph Sohm / Getty Images

For almost 200 years, immigration enforcement has existed in a sort of grey area, where the usual rules never applied. For example, when ICE arrests people, individual officers have much more legal discretion than other law enforcement authorities. Detainees may be held for weeks or months before going to a judge who will ask the person how they plead to ICE’s allegations against them.

Only then, long after the initial arrest, might ICE actually be required to show a judge any evidence to back up its case. The person would have spent all of that time detained, likely at a private detention center in a remote area.

For any other person in the U.S., this procedure goes against every legal protection in the constitution. But ICE has gotten away with treating immigrants this way for generations.

The ruling comes as other courts are making it easier for ICE to abuse migrant’s constitutional rights.

The ruling by the 9th Circuit comes less than a week after the 1st Circuit overturned a ban prohibiting ICE from arresting undocumented immigrants at courthouses in Massachusetts.

In 2018, ICE created a policy of attempting to arrest undocumented immigrants when they appeared at state courthouses for judicial proceedings. However, a district court granted an injunction against the policy after migrant advocates filed a lawsuit against ICE. They claimed that ICE was in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and lacked authority to make civil arrests at courts.

Meanwhile, ICE has resumed large-scale enforcement operations, announcing roughly 2,000 arrests over several weeks amid the Coronavirus pandemic. The 9th Circuit’s decision raises an obvious question: How many of those people were detained for more than 48 hours without a review by a judge?

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