By Luke Whitman
Examiner | examiner.com
August 10th – It has now been about a half a month since a group of undocumented immigrants from Arizona set out aboard their “UndocuBus” on a nationwide tour, spreading awareness about the dangerous position the undocumented find themselves in in this country, as well as the necessity of passing true, comprehensive immigration reform. “We have…witnessed how actions led by our own communities have the power to change policies and to create alternatives to defend the rights of immigrants,” explained the organizers of the “No Papers, No Fear” Ride for Justice, “We can’t wait for anyone else any longer. We’ve come too far to allow this country to be turned back.”
This week, the undocumented riders are leading a coalition of immigrant and civil rights groups in urging the New Orleans Sheriff’s Department from following in Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s example in holding suspected undocumented immigrants for federal immigration authorities. The “No Papers, No Fear” riders today joined Women United for Justice, a local New Orleans social justice group, gathering at the office of New Orleans Sheriff Marlin Gusman to urge an end to these dangerous and unnecessary detentions.
According to the protestors, Gusman’s insistence on holding those suspected of being undocumented until their legal residency status can be determined has resulted in a series of gross violations of individuals’ constitutional rights. In addition, the policy has created a crippling sense of insecurity among New Orleans residents, which has all but broken down the relationship between minority communities and law enforcement officers. The protestors argue that Gusman should follow the example of Washington D.C. and the state of Connecticut, which have already ended these immigrant detentions.
The situation in New Orleans was brought into the national spotlight recently by immigrant rights activist Joaquin Navarro-Hernandez. Navarro Hernandez is leading a group of undocumented individuals known as “the Southern 32,” who are currently facing deportation proceedings after coming out of the shadows and standing out to defend their rights. Today’s protestors insist that the United States stop its practice of deporting labor organizers and civil rights activists who are courageous enough to stand up for themselves and their communities.
The “No Papers, No Fear” ride for justice will continue onward across the United States over the next month, eventually converging at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC on September 3. “We’re ready to move the country forward and we’re risking everything to do so,” said the riders. “We hope to inspire officials to match our courage.”