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Support for Immigrants Has Become a Community Project

The upside to this administration is that we have all become more aware of our roles in helping to make sure that America lives up to the promises we value. As immigration lawyers in New Orleans, we deal daily with the challenges we didn’t face four years ago, and community members clearly recognize as well that our identity as a nation of immigrants is one we have to fight to preserve. On Monday while many Saints fans got ready for Monday Night Football, protesters blocked traffic in the CBD for a half-hour to draw attention to U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement’s plan to deport Yoel Alonso Leal back to Cuba. He has lung cancer and doctors believe that sending him home will mean his death, but his appeals have been denied. Protesters decried the lack of humanity in the decision, and he is only the most extreme case. According to’s Bryn Stole, “Leal is one of a dozen plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the near-blanket denial of parole to asylum seekers held in detention in ICE’s New Orleans Office’s jurisdiction, which includes Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee and Alabama.”

Community members now have to be the eyes, ears, voice and conscience of the country since we can’t count on our leaders to stand for our values. On Saturday, Louisiana Advocates for Immigrants in Detention will host a workshop to train volunteers to visit detained immigrants, monitor the condition of detention facilities, and advocate for the needs of detained immigrants. There is also a Hospitality House in Jena for visitors of detained immigrants, and it needs volunteers to staff it. The workshop takes place at the First Grace Church (3401 Canal St.) from 1-3:30 p.m. Those who are interested should fill out this intake questionnaire to gauge levels of interest and availability in advance of the workshop.

Some community members helped make Leal’s case a news story, while others will participate in AILA’s 13th annual Citizenship Day, which will take place Saturday, September 14 at the Loyola University School of Law (526 Pine St.) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Leah will be among the other immigration attorneys, lawyers, law students, high school students and community volunteers on hand to help eligible local community members apply for citizenship. Citizenship Day is there to help green card holders who might not be able to afford legal help apply for citizenship. 

Interested green card holders should contact (504) 321-3248, or email to register for this event and to get pre-screened for eligibility. If you know people who might benefit from Citizenship Day, please help spread the word. 

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