Ride for Justice Spotlight on Worker Dignity in New Orleans
For three weeks now, Jobs with Justice has been watching a courageous action moving across the South. The No Papers, No Fear: Ride for Justice has made stops in more than a dozen communities. At each stop the bus riders have come together with community members to demonstrate that they will not be complicit to the hate and fear that tries to divide communities and families, separate students from their education, and deny workers dignity.
In New Orleans, the No Paper No Fear riders spent a week with the New Orleans Workers Center for Racial Justice exploring the many challenges of worker organizing, accessing labor and civil rights, and changing worker demographics. Bus riders met with labor leaders, black community leaders, student leaders, women’s groups, and members of the original Freedom Ride. The riders joined members of the community in actions at the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office and outside the immigration court.
The New Orleans Sheriff has been cooperating with an overzealous Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office that has unapologetically been used to retaliate against workers. A woman’s delegation, with women from the bus and the community, went to the Sheriff’s office to demand a meeting. And while the Sheriff would not let them in, the group was able to engage his wife as she was exiting the building. The group launched into a story telling action, which visibly moved the Sheriff’s wife.
The following day the No Papers No Fear riders staged a rally and press conference outside the court hearing of Joaquin Navarro-Hernandez, one of the victims of local law enforcement collaboration with immigration agents. In 2010, Joaquin was racial profiled and then beaten in a botched immigration raid. Since then, Joaquin has united with other workers who face deportation after standing up for their civil and labor rights to form a group called the Southern 32. These 32 workers have been bold examples of the need for more protections for workers and the POWER Act. And as the bus riders rallied outside, Joaquin case became the first of those 32 to be dismissed, leading to a press conference full of hope for justice for the other workers.
These events in New Orleans are just a couple examples of the incredible work of the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice in shining the light on how immigration politics have hurt workers. The riders are not afraid to expose themselves and the injustices they see around them, and have helped to bring workers together to demonstrate that we are stronger when we confront our fears and stand together.
The bus continues for two more weeks, with more brave actions to come. Visit www.nopapernofear.org to see videos from New Orleans and to learn more about the other stops.