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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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