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The largest population of Hondurans in the United States can be found in New Orleans. I celebrate this diversity and I’m proud that many Hondurans and Latinos have chosen to be a part of this community, contributing to our economy and culture. The Latino community has always had a strong presence in New Orleans, but immediately following Hurricane Katrina, they were quick to help New Orleans rebuild and allow an even stronger comeback.
I’m running for the State Legislature with the intent of advocating for immigration policies that keep families together, respect human rights and dignity, and give everyone the opportunity to succeed in our state and country—especially those who have historically not had a voice at the State Legislature. We can start by being more thoughtful about how we refer to these human beings—using language such as “undocumented immigrants” instead of “illegal aliens” would be a good start.
Not everyone shares these values. At the federal level, the Trump administration has taken an aggressive stance on immigration. Family separation, failed plans to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and dehumanizing asylum seekers have been hallmarks of this Administration.
Over the last two years in Louisiana, the number of individuals in local jails has decreased due to a number of reforms in the criminal justice system. But at the same time, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has placed asylum seekers in jails and detention centers across Louisiana, adding about 2,790 to these local jails. ICE reimburses these local jails twice the amount to house a detainee, creating a perverse incentive to incarcerate more refugees. Many asylum seekers in these institutions have called their treatment “psychological torture” and have staged hunger strikes. The Office of the Inspector General found “egregious violations of detention standards.” Who will speak out for them?
It is immoral to treat asylum seekers like prisoners in this country; it is not the America I know and it is not how I want members of our community treated. Civil rights organizations like VOTE have mobilized to provide support in Louisiana. Still, many of these refugees are caught in a system that is difficult to navigate, provides little to no transparency in the process, and dehumanizes them. Little attention is paid to this issue and that needs to change.
The fabric of our community is comprised of people from diverse backgrounds and countries around the globe. We are strengthened by people who come to our city to work and raise their families. We need policies and laws that treat people humanely, keep families together, and reflect our country’s values of equality, independence and positive mobility. If elected to the State Legislature, I will commit to serving as this voice.
Candidate, House District 91
This message is brought to you by the Friends of Carling