Members of the non-profit A Community Voice (ACV) and its predecessor ACORN are seeking donations to buy gasoline for volunteer drivers who are transporting detainees being released from ICE-run facilities in Louisiana and Mississippi to airports such as the Louis Armstrong Airport for return trips to their home countries.
“Louisiana is a dumping ground for ICE detainees. They are left without any resources, food or water, mostly at rural spots across Louisiana,” said ACV member Beth Butler. The migrants hail from Mexico, Argentina and other Central-American countries. ICE houses detainees in Ferriday, Winnfield, Jenna, Pine Prairie, Oberlin, Basille, Jonesboro and Richmond Louisiana. There is also speculation that an extraordinary number of detainees end up in Louisiana because much of the state’s prison system is privatized, therefore earning extra dollars for the private operators.
ACV volunteers have transported more than 100 migrants in their personal vehicles during the last week. “We have many heroes all over the region who are helping including in Shreveport, Lafayette and Monroe. One 60-year-old woman has been picking up detainees from Natchez 18 hours a day in her own car,” Butler explained.
A van has recently been acquired that can accommodate 10 migrants at a time.
“We are asking for the public’s help. We need $200 to transport each group of ten individuals in the van,” said ACV member Debra Campbell, herself among the working poor who have donated funds. ACV is also seeking people willing to drive their own vehicles as part of this rescue mission.
A coalition of organizations led by Louisiana Advocates for Immigrants in Detention (LAID) filed a formal ICE complaint with Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary, U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Friday, July 16, 2021. The complaint alleges that ICE detention release protocols in Louisiana and Mississippi are in blatant violation of normal ICE operating procedures and are jeopardizing the well-being and safety of detainees.
The coalition believes that ICE officials are failing to provide detainees an opportunity to facilitate release arrangements with family and friends, releasing detainees in locations not within a reasonable walking distance of public transportation, and not providing detainees with a list of readily available legal, medical and social services as well as a fresh set of weather-appropriate clothing.
ICE centers in Louisiana, said LAID, have demonstrated a total disregard for standards compliance and basic public health. “We have documented undue hardship, anxiety and danger for immigrants and their families due to this negligence,” wrote spokesperson Frances Kelley in the complaint. The coalition is demanding that the ICE New Orleans Field Office take immediate steps to ensure compliance of federally-mandated guidelines by all ICE detention facilities under its jurisdiction.