2011 JSRI Advocacy Efforts

January 21, 2011: Government begins deportation of Haitians to traumatized Country with Cholera Epidemic
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After a December 21, 2010 visit with Loyola law students and attorneys to Haitian immigrants held for deportation in the Tensas Parish Detention Center, Dr. Sue Weishar consulted widely with advocates and Church officials in Washington, Miami, and Louisiana on the threat of deportation and what actions might be taken. Besides signing on to advocacy letters, JSRI released a press release, dated January 19, 2011, calling for action to prevent the return of Haitians to the island.  ICE began deportations on January 20, 2011. See background report, above. JRS sent its own letters to President Obama and Secretary Napolitano on January 21st.

March 2, 2011: Alabama Anti-Immigrant Legislation
On March 2nd Fr. Ted Arroyo, SJ, testified at a public hearing in Alabama's state legislature in Montgomery on HB56, Alabama's pending anti-immigrant legislation. The twenty or so speakers, pro and con, were allowed only three minutes to advocate concerning this highly complex and controversial issue. Reports on this advocacy appeared in several Alabama newspapers, along with much anti-immigrant blogging in response. Read Fr. Arroyo's testimony »

March 10, 2011: ICE still threatening further deportations
See JSRI letter of March 10, 2011, to ICE Commissioner Morton regarding proposed ICE policy on the Haitian detainees. 

March 18, 2011: Prison Rape Elimination Act
JSRI sent a letter to the Department of Justice urging the inclusion of immigration detention facilities in the anti-rape regulations proposed under the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA).  The proposed regulations excude detention facilities where there have been noted cases of rape of detainees. Read letter »

April 15, 2011: Nineteen more Haitians deported from Louisiana—U.S. Government resumes deportations to devastated and diseased country
Despite vigorous protestations from human rights and immigrant advocacy groups across the country, the U.S. government resumed deportations to Haiti on Friday, April 15. At approximately 10 AM that morning, 19 Haitians who had been held in detention centers in Louisiana since early December, 2010, were put on a flight to Port-au-Prince. Read more »

May 10, 2011: Louisiana Anti-Immigrant Legislation
Dr. Sue Weishar testified before the Louisiana House Committee on Transportation, Highways, & Public Works Committee in opposition to HB 342 mandating implementation of the E-Verify system for companies that do business with the state of Louisiana. The committee approved the bill and sent it to the full House for action. For testimony, see here.  An alternative e-verify bill ultimately was passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Jindal. 

May 11, 2011: H-2B Non-Agricultural Workers
On May 11, 2011, JSRI submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Labor in favor of proposed reforms affecting the employment of H-2B non-agricultural workers in the U.S. H-2B workers have long been subject to exploitation by unscrupulous employers in the Gulf South. This abuse became rampant in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

October 13-14, 2011: Imprisoned, Forgotten, and Deported: Immigration Detention, Advocacy, and the Faith Community 
JSRI in partnership with other academic departments and colleges at Loyola Univeristy New Orleans and the University of Florida Center for Latin American Studies, the Initiative for Immigration, Religion, and Social Change at the Univeristy of Florida,  led a two day conference on immigration detention led a two day conference outlying the extent of immigration detention. 

December 2011: Shareholder Investor Responsibility
On May 12, 2011 Mary Baudouin, and Dr. Sue Weishar attended the annual meeting of the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) in Nashville to speak to the board, staff and shareholders of the need for CCA to adopt a verifiable human rights policy and adopt stricter accountability and reporting measures. CCA is the largest private prison company in the United States. In FY 2010 CCA facilities under contract with ICE held 21.2% of immigrants detained in the U.S. The New Orleans Province is working with a  cadre of faith-based investors who filed a shareholder resolution with CCA in November 2010 this resolution was withdrawn when CCA agreed to hold at least three dialogues in the coming year regarding risk assessments and transparent reporting about  human rights abuses at CCA facilities. On May 12 Mary and Sue also discussed the terms of the upcoming meetings with CCA officials. In December 2011, Baudouin and Weishar and other religious investors met with senior management of CCA to continue the formal dialogue.