"There is no God here."
Why I Represent the New Orleans Immigrant Workers Who Committed Civil Disobedience
by Bill Quigley
In the thirty six-years I have been a lawyer, I have seen many people take brave moral actions. I have represented hundreds in Louisiana and across our country who have been arrested for protesting for peace, civil rights, economic justice, and human rights for all. It is amazing to see people put their freedom on the line when they risk jail for justice.
None are braver than the seventeen immigrant workers arrested in New Orleans at the office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). These mothers and fathers, members of the Congress of Day Laborers at the New Orleans Workers Center for Racial Justice, are standing up for justice and risking being deported from the U.S. They risk being separated from their children, many of whom are U.S. citizens.
Another is Jimmy Barraza, who lives with his wife and stepson Carlos. One night, while Jimmy and his wife were unloading groceries in their apartment parking lot, ICE agents surrounded them, guns drawn. They immediately handcuffed Jimmy and questioned his wife. When Carlos came out of the house, hoping to translate for his parents, ICE agents pinned him against a wall, cuffed him, and threw him to the ground in front of his mother. For Gods sake, let him go, his mother said.
An ICE agent answered: There is no God here. Im the only one in charge here.
Immigrant workers and family members like these live in constant fear. If they leave their homes to walk their children to school, if they go to the laundromat or the barber shop or the grocery store, they will be targeted for nothing more than looking Latino, and their families will never see them again.
Stories like Irmas and Jimmys, and there are hundreds of them in New Orleans alone, are the reason that we need an end to the raids and comprehensive immigration reform with strong worker protections. Until we do, people like these will have to continue standing up for justice: immigrants, people of faith, civil and labor rights leaders, and ordinary people from all walks of life who believe in that all workers deserve dignity and all families belong together.
I volunteered to represent these mothers and fathers because they are struggling for human dignity, human rights, and for social justice for their children and for others. I am a Catholic social justice lawyer. How could I not stand in solidarity with these mothers and fathers? I am inspired by their courage and passion for justice. It is an honor to defend them.
People like that make me wish I believed in a god who meted out justice.
Post Katrina New Orleans saw an enormous influx of Mexicans and Central Americans. Without them, it is hard to imagine that New Orleans would have recovered.
They deserve justice and dignity and I praise this man.
where someone was just using an expression and the answer was rude and demeaning.