New Orleans sheriff makes landmark decision regarding treatment of immigrants

In New Orleans, Louisiana, the sheriff’s department has decided to reject the federal decision to enforce immigration laws. Federal agents will be kept out of jails there, and police will no longer respond to detention requests unless they are for people who have committed serious crimes.

Said Jacinta Gonzalez, the lead organizer at Congress of Day Laborers: “This settlement agreement is really a huge victory for New Orleans reconstruction workers and immigrant families. The implication is for many … sheriffs are able to decide whether or not they want to help facilitate racial profiling and constitutional violation or they prefer to stand up on the right side of history and defend immigrant workers.”

This comes after immigrant workers in New Orleans were detained for more than the allowed 48 hours.

“No one should be torn away from their family and spend more than 90 days in jail without a charge, the way I did,” said Antonio Ocampo, one of those detained. He and others brought a lawsuit against the sheriff’s office, which led to the new policy’s implementation.

The decision should help ease the rampant racial profiling that has plagued many Southern cities in recent years.

Immigrants played a key role in rebuilding the city after Hurricane Katrina. About 100,000 immigrants specifically moved to the city to help. Sheriff Marlin Gusman is being praised for his decision to help protect these people from needless discrimination and persecution.