By Scott A.
ICE is waging a terror campaign in our community. It has residents afraid to leave their homes, go to church, pick up their kids, or go to work. The campaign is part of a nationwide push to dehumanize and threaten immigrant communities, and a local organization, Congreso del Jornaleros (Congress of Day Laborers), has served a critical role in protecting our vulnerable neighbors.
Congreso was founded in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to advocate for workers’ rights and racial justice for the black and immigrant workers who rebuilt the city. Congreso was instrumental in the movement that got Orleans Parish to agree to not coordinate directly with ICE.
Unfortunately, in Jefferson Parish and the city of Kenner in particular, the authorities have worked lockstep with ICE.
“Jeff Parish and Kenner cops have ICE on speed dial,” says Amber S., a DSA member who works closely with Ojos del Congreso (ICEwatch), a group established to aid immigrants in the area. “The cops are terrorists toward the immigrant community here, down to literally stalking people outside their houses,” Amber says.
ICE’s tactics keep community members confined to their homes because ICE agents can’t enter a home without a warrant unless they’re invited in. “Like vampires,” Amber says.
Ojos helps residents through a variety of tactics, the most important of which are the Ojos alerts. Neighborhoods organize to keep an eye out for possible ICE activity. If ICE action is suspected, Ojos sends out an alert, and a documented ally is dispatched to assess the situation.
Amber (who emphasizes that they do not speak for the immigrant community or Congreso) said that Ojos is one of the workforces of Congreso. Ojos allies use their privilege as documented people to do the legwork that undocumented people can’t. The need for documented volunteers is greatest in Jefferson Parish, Kenner, and the West Bank, Amber says.
- Ojos allies can help in a variety of ways:
- Monitoring suspected ICE activity
- Phone and text banking for meetings
- Fundraising for Congreso
- Giving Congreso members rides to their meetings or to detention facilities
- Accompanying undocumented people to their ICE check-ins or medical appointments
- Offering translation
- Emergency childcare in the event of a parent getting detained
If a member wants to help Ojos, they can fill out this form to learn more. Community solidarity becomes more and more important as the Trump administration expands its brutal anti-immigrant campaigns. Congreso’s vision of life “Sin papeles, sin Medo” (No papers, no fear) is achievable, but only through workers and neighbors helping one another to fight against the fascism rising in our community.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Fill out this form to pass your contact information to allies of Ojos del Congresso.