New Orleans Rallying Outside the Bureau of Immigration & Customs Enforcement Building

Hey there! My name is Ian, and I’m a summer intern with UNITE HERE in New Orleans, Louisiana. On the second day of my internship, our group coordinator, Scott, received an urgent text about a rally downtown that needed our support. We swiftly mobilized in front of The Bureau of Immigration & Customs Enforcement where we were greeted by the Roche’s, a family from Guatemala with four sons, along with Dream Activists Louisiana.  They told us the story of Henry, the oldest son, who was on the verge of deportation. Henry himself gave a moving speech about his life in Guatemala and how he now felt like an American and only wanted to stay here with his family so that he could pursue his dream of becoming a dentist. His mother’s words pierced our hearts when she said that going back meant he could face extortion, kidnapping, or even death.

We stood in solidarity with signs and chanted, “The people united, will never be defeated! ¡El pueblo unido,
jamás será vencido!” A few yards away, a line of security guards was the perfect symbol for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement: a gang of bullies with badges. When the sun reached its highest point, the rally dissolved and we left the Bureau wishing the best to the Roche family.

After refueling, we mapped out our next action on the back of an empty pizza box.  The plan was to go to the W Hotel, an upscale hotel, and pass out flyers. We were there to inform customers and W Hotel managers about the dispute that UNITE HERE has with the HEI-operated W Hollywood.  We spread out around the building leafleting. One security guard for the hotel walked out and said to a woman with a flyer, “Don’t read that, that’s garbage”. The woman was only more enticed to read something that caused such a reaction. Never had I imagined that we would be doing such important work this summer.  I look forward to doing more, and writing about more exciting adventures in the future!

– Ian, 2012 Summer Organizer, New Orleans

Top Photo: Ian with his fellow interns and the Louisiana Dream Activist rallying outside the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Building.

Bottom Photo: Ian’s fellow New Orleans OBB Interns, Shanique and Byron, handing out flyers outside of the W Hotel.