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OneRouge Community Check -In - Week 160

June 20 is World Refugee Day, an international day designated by the United Nations to honor refugees around the globe. A refugee by definition is someone who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster. Most recently, Ukrainian refugees have been in the news. But it is important to know that the U.S. has become home to millions of refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burma, Bhutan, Eritrea, Afghanistan and many more countries. These folk aren’t coming here for funsies, vacation, or even with the intention of having a baby that will keep them in the US permanently. They are folks who would likely die if they don’t leave their homes. And we are going to hear more about their integration into our communities and how they face issues of poverty as they resettle. Join us on Friday 6/16 when we hear from our featured speakers:

  • Leticia Casildo – Executive Director at Familias Unidas en Accion NOLA

  • Marcela Hernan dez - Program and Organizing Manager at Louisiana Organization for Refugees and Immigrants (LORI)

  • Sara Louis Ayo - legal assistant and policy & advocacy organizer with the Louisiana Organization for Refugee and Immigrants (LORI).

  • Dauda Sesay – Founding Director and President of Louisiana Organization for Refugees and Immigrants (LORI) and National Network Director at African Communities Together

Enlight, Unite, & Ignite!



Casey Phillips

Good morning everyone. Oh, all right, Dr. Bell. We're at least in the shade of blue. All right. Then it happen.

Dr. Bell

Well, you know, it's Men's Health Day. You're supposed to wear glue to support men's health.

Casey Phillips

Okay. Then, uh, it's hard to keep up with the, you know, the day it's week or a month of all the different ones.

So thank you for lifting that up. Men's Health, I'll go on an extra walk today. Um, Patrick Tuck, we see he got the memo. He's in blue. So obviously a couple of people did get to hear it, but, um, yes.

Welcome everyone. Marcala. Good to see you, my friends, and, uh, good to see you all, uh, here with us this morning.

Um, let's see, is our, our friends from the mayor's office on the line, Courtney or Jessica,

Okay, well, it doesn't look like that's the case, so let's just go ahead and start getting the ball rolling.

Shall we? Pepper, fire away?

Pepper Roussel

Good morning, OneRouge. We've got some folks who are still sort of trickling in, and of course we love to make the table bigger. Here we are on this Happy Friday and we are gonna be talking about World Refugee and Immigrants Day, which is celebrated on June 20th.

Not the fact that they're refugees, but they are strong enough and resilient and, ooh, I hate that word, to make another space their home because they had to leave theirs. We have some folks from Lori as well as familiars.

We'll start off with Dauda, who is over here on my left with this fancy background. You wouldn't let mind letting us know who you are, what you do, and how we can be involved.

Dauda Sesay

Yes. Good morning everyone. Um, my name is Dauda SesayI. I'm the founder and executive director of the Louisiana Organization for Refugees and Immigrants, LORI for short. Definitely, we are here today to see how we can educate each and every one of our community here in Louisiana about this world refugee that we are celebrating.

And the date and everything is on my background. Yeah. But, I think we are doing an introduction from our life. Okay. And I'm originally from Sierra Leon, so I'll pass it on back to you.

Sara Louis Ayo

My name is Sara Louis Ayo. I am originally from South Sudan, East Africa.

I am the policy and advocacy organizer for LORI. And I'll pass it to Marcela.

Marcela Hernandez

Good morning, OneRouge. Most of you already know me. My name is Marcela Hernandez. I am the program and organizing manager from LORI, uh, and I'm originally from Columbia. Thank you for having me here, and I have to go ahead to you.

Leticia Casildo

Hello everyone. Uh, my name is Leticia. I'm sorry I can't put my camera at this moment. Uh, I'm from Honduras. Uh, I'm director to Familias Unidas en Accíon. Thank you so much for inviting me in this space.

Pepper Roussel

So, Marcela, if you wouldn't mind giving us an overview of World Refugee and Immigrant Day, uh, what is it for and how is LORI involved?

Marcela Hernandez

Thank you. So, World Refugee and Immigrant Day is a day where we all come together to celebrate our hope and resilience. This is an event that is celebrated all around the globe. This is not only something that we just coming up here in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This is an event that is a global celebration.

And it really shows the significant contributions of immigrants and refugees. And it speaks out loud about the importance of unity and having a safe environment in a new home, that we're calling a new home. Now that we are resettled that. Country. So this is a place where we can celebrate that love and that our whole community, the immigrant community, non-immigrant community refugees, they can come together and see the showcase and the beauty and educate the general public about our rich culture, about our education, about our traditions, but also about our stories.

We are gonna have different service providers. We're gonna have institutions, we're gonna have international countries, people from different countries that are uplifting their stories and that are so proud of who we are. And that is one thing that we here at LORI are very proud. We're very proud to be immigrants.

We're proud to be refugees despite of the reasons of why we have coming to this country. Um, And that's really the reason why we are here today, to educate all of you because there are many reasons why refugees are here. There are many reasons why people leave their countries, and that's part of our mission here at LORI, which is educate everyone about the reasons why.

So sometimes it could be people are looking for better employment that people are looking for reunification with family. They come here to study, they come here because of nature, mother nature, displacement, violence and human rights violations. So, there's so many reasons behind it. It's not some, it's not just because it's appealing to leave our country is, and it's appealing to leave our families.

And I'm gonna say this. Yesterday I was having a conversation with a nine-year-old boy, from our summer camp, just a new immigrant coming, and he said, this nine-year-old, he said, I'm missing my family. I am missing my food. And it's like I'm missing every day that goes by. I'm missing one thing that is from my country.

So this is just a call for all of you to realize this is real and we're just trying to make our best to be in this country. And, so the war refugee day is a day to celebrate who we are, but also to display, you know, our traditions, our culture, and to share that with the general public.

Pepper Roussel

Thank you, ma'am.

So Dauda would, would you mind sharing a little bit of why and how you came to the States and why you started LORI?

Dauda Sesay

Thank you. And thank you to the one which family for joining today and also standing and giving us a space always to be part of this call. And. This is something that we love to come together. Yes. Before I got to Maso, I just wanna talk a little bit about, res Marcela’s Point, World Refugee Day in June.

In this month of June, we have so much. We have the pride, the Juneteenth, uh, and then we have the immigrants, every church and then world refugee. The so much thing that's supposed to bring all of us together. So I know on this day we have to acknowledge the undeniable truth that our world is home to hover under the 10 million people that are displaced souls who have been pushed from places they once called home.

It is a reality that sat in the hearts what is also a call to action for all of us. A call for compassion, understanding, and a collective human spirit that thrives even in the face of adversity. Um, I'm here today, a 11 father, a proud house man, a father of five, though and above all, I'm a refugee leader here.

My roots sunk deep from Sierra Leone. That's my bad place. That is the land that gifted me the Chase Memorial, but also a, a land that has a traumatic past. So I carry that

because during the war, back home, My father, I lost my dad. Sister and home are no longer the same again for me. And then I spent significant time in a refugee camp in Gambia, a place where uncertainty was the only constant. We had dreams and hopes that held us together. I miss the hardship. I miss all those hardships. I found a light, a partner in my joy. God gifted me, my wife, even in the midst of a con dangerous condition.

And together my wife and I will welcome our daughter to award help between the present struggle and an uncertain, hopeful future. We welcome her in a refugee camp and in the midst of that, in 2009. The wings of change blew in our direction through the United States Refugee Resettlement Program. We found ourselves in Louisiana to be precise.

Baton Rouge. It was a land familiar, yet it became home. It testament to the power of acceptance and unity. My journey with all the tri and triumph and triumph instilled me a desire to be a leader for others navigating a similar path and does, and that's how the Louisiana Organization for Refugees and Immigrants was born.

And through law, we strive to empower refugees and immigrants to become active, contributing members of their new community, offering support in areas of civic engagement, economic empowerment, social integration, and immigration, legal aid. And today, as we are speaking, We do not merely shed light on the trials that refugees and immigrants and endure.

We are here to celebrate our resilience, our courage, and our relentless spirit because of the significant contribution to our society. We are not just a victim, was a survival leaders and visionaries. Just remember all of us here, refugees are your neighbors, your colleagues, your friends. They are your coworkers, and they are your children's.

Just think about it, and as refugees, we have this unwavering spirit to contribute. Amidst the devastating impact of Hurricane Ida and Laura, we are at the forefront to rebuild our city again and at lower. No, we went beyond just rebuilding. We provided humanitarian assistance as well. So over 300 families in Laura and all the way in Lake Charles.

And when we gave, were not given because you're refugees and immigrants were given because you were impacted by that disaster. So I'm asking here today, in the spirit of this month of solidarity, I'm just asking all of us here today or Louisiana resident, where are your voices in unison advocating poor living conditions for the refugees that are currently in the refugee camps, those that are going through a difficult situation at the border.

And trust me, I've seen that. I went to the border. And I saw firsthand the conditions individual are lived in. 13 years ago, I was in a refugee camp in a third-world country all the way in Africa, a place that is made of plastic shielding and a trampoline After 13 years close to the richest nation on a farm at the US border, seeing the condition that I saw there is even worse than the camp I was living in a refugee camp, that retraumatized me and put me back in a bad spot.

And knowing that some of those conditions are because of the, some of the policies that our leaders imposed and enacted to get each and every one of you here. You have a role to play in this narrative and together we can change the story from one of de aspire to hope from displacement to homecoming.

And the theme for this year is Hope Away from Home. Let’s get it going. So, thank you, Pepper, for giving me this opportunity to share a little bit about me and the community.

Pepper Roussel

Thank you. I love that. From displacement to community. Leticia, can you come off mute? Becuase I'd like to hear about the work that you're doing that is very similar to what Lori's doing, but just in a different place.

Can you hear me? Uh, yes. Okay. Um,

Leticia Casildo

I don't know. It's just, it's better for me to speak in Spanish because, um, I don't know. Marcela, can you support me? Translate please? Yeah, she can for sure. Marc Spanish isn't good enough yet, but she can. Your English is great though. Yeah.

I share, I share very much the mission and the vision of law because that's, that's just like the job that we do here, uh, in Louisiana, in Orleans, especially, uh, with the organization.

Our organization was born out of those specific challenges that we live.

So my name is Leticia Casildo. I am Garifuna. I am from Honduras, and I came to this country seeking for safety and refuge in North.

So it was not a decision that I made, uh, it was not my intent decision. I was doing it because I was saving my life.

So when I came to this country, I came, um, seeking for freedom and for safety. Yet that was not my plan. That was, that was not, uh, what I, what I had to, uh, face once I came here.

So that was when I understood that organizing and unifying with people that has this ambitions, uh, we can secure a safe, uh, safe space for all.

And what is important is to be able to educate others about, uh, this specific challenges that we face. Um, and that, that, so people understand where are we coming from and understand our point of, of view.

Okay? So the that we do at is to educate us and educate others. About migration and the fact that this is a human right.

So throughout this process, uh, we know that we also contribute and we add to this country, we don't give less value. On the contrary, we add value,

and this is the reason why it's important to share in the spaces such as World Refugee and Immigrant Day. So we can all share our values, our cultures, and the different perspectives that we have.

I know that at this time we're facing a country that is divided and is authorized, uh, to the point that we are dehumanizing our,

so this is how we find ways to educate and to continue seeking local changes. To improve those challenges that we are facing

at this time. My organization is supporting campaigns that is seeking local protections of people that are, um, that are facing great challenges and is they're being affected by the, um, ongoing policies.

So one of those campaigns is a driving license for all campaign. And this is a campaign to establish a way to be safe and for people to be able to mobilize.

So we're asking why is this even campaign good. Which is basically because it fertilizes the economy of our country, of our city, and of our families,

and establishes a stronger bond between our communities. No.

And then it unifies our families and it promotes justice.

So justice implies that people will be treated the same way with no discriminations or racisms and that they're not target just because their lack of documentation.

So many people are trapped in a broken immigration system, and this proves why it is important for people's safety not to have, um, to prove their, their worthiness,

politic, uh, political asylum. It is very difficult to be approved in this country,

but then how we protect our families is, Who have been living here for 15-16 years in this country with children that are American? However, these families are not given the chance to drive safe.

Okay, so this is why I wanted to share this with you. Uh, we do have to celebrate. We have to unify our efforts. We have to, uh, strive for safe families, but also to have safe mental health. We need to make sure that we have spaces where our people are mentally, uh, safe as well.

And then we also need to recognize that if a person is in danger or is exposed, will also impact us all as general public.

Pepper Roussel

Well, that's one of the things that I wanna switch over. Thank you, Leticia. And to you to Marcela. So from Sara, for the work that you do at LORI, which is particular to policy, and policy-making, but also having exposure to and experience as an immigrant. Can you share with us some of the things that we might do in order to make the process of becoming and creating a new space or a new home any easier?

Uh, and this is really the bridge into how does, how does this impact us as, uh, working to address poverty?

Sara Louis Ayo

Okay. As I mentioned, I'll just give you a little background of myself. I'm originally from South Sudan. I was raised in Baton Rouge. I came here as a child refugee. You know, my journey has not always been easy as a child refugee, let alone a child going through those experiences. Because I never understood the complexity of it all.

But I always knew that I was different. And as a child, I had many questions like, why do people have to leave their homes? Why do I have to leave at the middle of the night with my mom? Where is my dad? Why is my dad not around? Um, but I'm also comforted by those who have opened their homes for us.

And, and I think, um, um, I'm reminded by this quote that says that it's an obligation of every person born in a safer room to open the door when someone in danger is knocking or knocks. Um, and, and, and I know even, uh, alongside of like what I do, I think because of my experiences as a child refugee, you know, and because I knew that coming in.

Um, my family and I received, um, help, uh, coming to the state and despite the challenges with like language barriers, lack of resources, um, I think just coming in, I wanted to work in a place that supported refugee and immigrants and represented them in, in, in a, in a safer way. In a healthier way, but in the right way.

And I believe that that what attracted me to Lori so much because they have also become the gatekeepers for refugees and immigrants here in Louisiana. Uh, and just to mention that we're refugee day like that, that is, to me, that is unity, that is strength, that is resiliency. Uh, not all of us had, you know, similar migration journey, but we have similar experiences being others in this country.

Um, and our, I just find it very comforting, um, for refugee and immigrants. You know, whenever I came here, we were like, We became like a hub trying to find resources for ourselves. We pushed each other and we stood up for each other, and I'm like, this is something that I wanted to do. Um, I wanna work in a place where we find policies that best fit us.

I wanna represent people in the right way. And just coming into Lori, I, I was, I'm able to do that.

Pepper Roussel

So the, you en quoted you as saying the biggest challenge facing refugees is arriving to this country and not having enough resources. I know that a lot of us who work in, uh, nonprofit spaces can attest to how that is impactful, not just for folks who were new to the space, to the area, but also the folks who were already here.

Help me understand the policies that you and Lori are putting forward that will help not just today, but tomorrow, and the refugees that are coming behind you.

Sara Louis Ayo

Um, what, like, we're trying to find policies. I know one thing that we are working on and we are trying to educate our community about especially, um, what's going on here in East Baton Rouge Parish. We know that the 287G right, the 287G gives sheriffs in a sense the power to whenever they stop refugees or immigrants or it is initially it's just based on stereotypes.

Sometimes whenever the people and, and that once they get them in, they put 'em into, um, they, the whole processing going through like the whole immigration, right. And people are taken into detention. Um, when that happens, we don't know. A lot of time people don't know the effect that detention center have on refugees or immigrants.

You know, I myself, uh, I'm an American citizen, but I was stopped. And I was stereotyped. I'm black, I had an accent, you know, and once I was stopped, they immediately thought it was an immigration issue. So at LORI, we educate. We're trying to educate not only our community, but also sheriffs, um, about the harm that 287G does to us.

In a way we're fighting like, let's change this. We don't need this. And that's, that's a policy that needs to be changed. Thank you. Completely agreed. And Leticia's work, around driver's licenses. This is really a fundamental thing that most of us don't really pay too much attention to. And the reason is that, well, you know, you turn 16, 17, 18, whatever, you get a job license, and you move on with your life.

Pepper Roussel

But there are many communities that don't necessarily have them for one reason or another. Folks who are new to the country fall in that area. But also when we talk about detention centers, we also talk this intersection of criminality. And so those who are, uh, who work in criminal justice spaces will understand.

But Marcela, if you can help Leticia explain the process for folks who are new to the country to even get a driver's license, that might explain a little bit of why this entire project is necessary.

Leticia Casildo

Okay, so this is, this is not a new process, what she's saying, the driver license campaign is not a new process and it has been, uh, done in 16 states in the United States name.

Okay, so we want you to understand that if people have an ID or a way to identify themselves, it will generate trust for people that are driving without any type of identification or get, so there are different reasons why we're supporting this campaign.

First of all, because they don't have any license when people come, they don't have any type of identification. Also because people are coming into this country just surviving without driving license education, they're trying to identify the streets, trying to figure out how to properly drive.

However, they don't have the proper education of doing this.

Okay, so there are many reasons why we're supporting this campaign. Uh, first of all, um, it, it gives our families, uh, in the state to have a, um, an economy that is fertilized. It also helps to maintain a safe community. It gives the rights, um, of our, to our families to adjust the system. And then also that people that, um, don't get ripped off, but by scans or anything that will eventually endanger their lives.

So the way that this can, uh, be done, how, how do we do this? The first thing is that we need to push our representatives to present a law that can be voted so people can vote.

So, and, and this is important to note, that this is, we're talking about safety for all, not only for undocumented, this is safety for all. So people can actually get the proper education in our state when they're out there driving.

So if for any reason gets a ticket or get, gets pulled over by a law enforcement agent just to have a justice system, instead of, having them to be separated from their families just to pay the tickets and just like anyone else will do, pay the ticket, pay the fine, and not to be separated or deported from their families.

So today I want to extend an invitation to you. We are having, uh, a meeting tomorrow in Baton Rouge, where we are going to be presenting this information. So you can gather more information and you can understand how we're going to be presenting this to our representatives.

So this law, it will have to be signed by the governor. So, it could, it can be done in the, in the entire state.

So when, okay, in order for us to bring this to the governor and to bring it to the table of the governor, it has to be a collective effort. It has to be a collective work. And just remember, this will be a benefit for all. So our streets are safe. So also throughout this work and taxes that they will be paying and, and they, and they, um, the money that people has to be paid to get their driver's license and all of this process, it will help.

That we have safe streets and it will go towards our schools and it will go, uh, towards our general overall, uh, community. No.

So unless just remember this is not a charge, a new charge for the state, it will actually add to the economy of the state and it will also help our families to be safe and to be able to identify themselves.

Pepper Roussel

Thank you. That's perfect. And so, uh, the. The discussion around driver's licenses is not just the discussion about transportation, but certainly it starts there where we make sure and we try to figure out how it is that we can get people from where they are to where they need to be.

But also it is a question about cultural differences and English proficiency and being able to feel safe in your own home. There you are. It's a question about, uh, how do we educate and our, our family, how do we educate our children and keep our families together? Because, you know, it's not, uh, you know what?

Marcela Hernandez

They came, the idea of not being able to keep your family together just because you might not. Maybe it was a rolling stop at a stop sign and next thing you know, somebody's being completely deported for something that's just as silly as that, is. It's a hard thing. But deep conversations all.

So, um, I wanna remind you, uh, as we are listening that, uh, please put your questions in the chat and there is one in the chat I going to presume this one is for Dauda. If you could think of one thing that you are most proud of about your role or your work, what would that be today? And this is coming from somebody who has been watching you grow over the years, so make it gut.

Um, thank you, um, for that questions. And I got tons, tons, tons of them. But if I ask one thing is the, the work that we've done around family reunifications, I cherish family so much and. And I remember this work, like a family that was a US citizen, married to an immigrant and that gentleman dropped his two children to school not knowing that, um, ICE has been picking on him.

I mean, no quiet, drop his, all his children on his way home and they got picked up and detained, called the wife. The wife was teaching and the classroom in the middle of the classroom and then let them like, Hey, your husband has been picked up. I asked, that woman was terrified in the classroom. She doesn't even know what to do because the immigration system is very complex and.

We are able to step in and one of the students in the classroom gave her my number she called me and immediately I went to work. And next time with our immigration lawyer. Now our immigration lawyer was earlier, and they were able to get out back to get able to release the husband. And then, and then two years down the road, she sends me a photo of finding a husband saying that if it is not for you, this going to have been possible.

And I have been leaving happily. They bought their home and they move him. The only crime that gentleman committed was, um, was, um, adjustment of status, was a lapse in status. And during that time, he was a u uh, a student. And then adjusting it status to a permanent resident married to US citizens. So that lapse in between.

So that's the only kind to separate a family. So there's so much, but that one thing that I'm proud of. And then also with the community that we already built here. And I just wanted to, um, um, call for action. This three things I wanted to pass on to you all today. I want us to remember that, um, our words and compassion must be met with action.

No, it's not just enough for us to speak about change, but we must be the driving force for that change. And I wanna recommend the actionable steps that we are moving on with Laurie, number one. Let's work together. Here we can begin there to pass a welcoming resolution here in Bat Rouge. This is a commitment to fostering a safe, healthy community that champions economic well-being and inclusivity.

This resolution, we ensure everyone in Baton Rouge regardless of where they, we are born, feel valued, expected, and fully able to contribute to their shared economy community. And second, we are gonna be working with, uh, Leticia to advocate for driver license. And as paper mentioned, it's not just about mobility.

Even though mobility is key to accessing opportunity, building connection and integrating into our community, a driver license represents more than just the ability to drive. It symbolized independence, trust, and sense of opportunity. And then last. Let champion a comprehensive immigration reform that is equitable and humane.

Let's hold our president accounting. He says that he gonna bring a humane immigration system, and that's reform will uphold the dignity of every person and embrace the value of our Sheeran magazine. So with these three, I believe that we have what it takes to make these changes because that's the heart and weave.

So let's use them together. We can make our city a big of hope, unity, and opportunity for all. So I owe you all today, let's make Baton Road, and Louisiana is shining example of hope away from hope. So, um, I wanna thank you all for giving us the time to express, um, ensure our love and hearts for humanity.

Pepper Roussel

Thank you. Of course. Thank you. So we spent a, a lot of time talking about 287G and folks who have been detained because of, you know, just the way that they present Marcela, the, the work that you'll do with immigrants and refugees, is it only people who look like they speak Spanish or is it more than that?

Marcela Hernandez

Not at all. And actually for those who know my family, uh, they know we don't look the same. Actually, I. I thought I was white until I came to the United States, and that's when I realized that I was no longer white. Um, if you see my father, my father is blue eyes, uh, blonde, uh, super, super, super white, and my whole family is the same way.

So we, we, immigrants and refugees, we all come from different backgrounds and that is one thing the people needs to understand. Uh, and this is just sociological perspectives that I understand. Not everybody has knowledge of this, but we are coming from places that we were also colonized by Europeans. So our race is also European light.

Um, everybody who comes into this country that looks not European do have a special challenges, but that does not mean that all of us have that unique characteristic of. You know, being Hispanic or being black. And that's just a wrong misconception. And at the end of the day, what we proclaim here at Lori is that there's one race, which is a human race.

And what's happened with the 287G agreement, going back to that, to the race profiling, is that people don't understand that. People do not understand that justice is not about the color of your skin or the accent that you have in your voice. We're talking about a system that we have to make it accountable for justice for all.

We all deserve to be happy. We all deserve to be saved. So this is not something about ethnicity, this is not something about language. This is not something about race. You know, this is something about safety and really. Really, really, really protecting human rights and the fact that we all deserve to be safe.

That's all.

Thank you. So Sara, since you work in policy, I, I'm hoping that you might be able to share a little bit of, of information or insight for us. Um, it doesn't sound that bad. 2 87 G just gives deputies and local law enforcement the ability to enforce laws that are already there. Why is it so horrible? It's horrible cuz it's based on, like Marcela just mentioned, uh, that few things that she mentioned.

Sara Louis Ayo

It's, it's also based on stereotype. Like how, for instance, how can I be, how can you stop me? And immediately think that I don't have papers, so how can you stop me because of my ex, my accent, um, and determine that I belong in detention centers. You know? And, and there's this narrative that is majority of the time that people are being caught or, or Hispanic descent, you know, but then you, you, you read about detention center.

You do work with detention or we get stories, we get calls at LORI, and that does not reflect the narrative at all. And just here in Louisiana, we, with the influx of people coming in, we know that when it comes to, uh, black and brown, they don't get the same representation. Right? So even if the narrative is, oh, we, we, they, they're doing the right thing.

They're getting people in. But it's the right thing based on stereotype. Like you, it's racist. You, you're, you're stereotyping people. And, and the fact that when they go in, majority of them do, do not have the representation. And those majorities are black people. Those majority are people from African, uh, countries or, uh, uh, black, um, um, um, Caribbean countries.

You know, we are the one that not given asylums, we the one, are forced to sit in detention centers. And so even having that representation is not there. And that's why if they're not gonna push this 287G LORI's not giving up, we're gonna fight for it. But as well, we're gonna fight for universal representation and, uh, rep universal representation.

It's not just, it's regardless of like the perceived likelihood that your case would not succeed or you won't be deported or, you know, the connection you have to any criminal, um, justice system. But the fact that you are gonna, you are gonna be given the dignity to be represented the right way, cuz you are a human being.

Dauda Sesay

Um, to address on Sara points. Yes. Um, we want our community to be safe. We want our cities to be safe, but to have a safe and healthy community, we all have to work together. You don't have to create one policy, one system that is targeting particular group of people because of their race or their status here.

That in itself is a stereotype. And like the example again, that's an effective 287G white there that was attempted to, to separate family. And, and then it's not just that we want to trust our law enforcement, we wanna work with them. We wanna do community, uh, policing, but how can we do that when law enforcement has become, has as be asked, put our community as a target number one.

We've seen crime, um, not been reported because of that fear. We've seen victim of domestic violence are afraid to come out to report because of that fear. I'm a US citizen. I've been profiled by police and that 287G even as a US citizen, sometimes being afraid because of I'm an neglect to come forward.

I had time. I, so you see, so, and, and the sheriff are in control of the, the jails, the prisons. So regardless of how you get there, whether, uh, from the state police or from the city police, once you are in there, You are locked into that 2 87 G because the sheriff, they have that now. We've seen our legal department trying to get people released even though the judge determined that, okay, this individual has a credible fear and needs to be released, but because you have a ice hold on you, you still not gonna go out and ree with your family, so.

Dauda Sesay

So the 287G I've seen the impact. I've seen my colleagues, my colleague told me if that person swam because of the accent. And where are you from? I'm from Africa. Did you swim to get here? A sheriff asked him just less than two weeks ago, one of our staff got pulled over right here in downtown at daca.

Recipients was like three months old getting to the US and stayed here in every aspect. But because as a DACA you always have a temporal status on your license because of that. Oh, oh, this have, um, ice restriction on that. That's a sheriff. So we are calling to Albert Ocean. So all to know that we are the only city now it was three.

We are the only city parish that have an active 287 G. Hopefully we pray that they did not renew it because it expired on the ninth and hopefully they didn't renew that again because we've seen terrible things happen because of that fear. I've visited families that lost both parents because of domestic violence.

Right here in our city, one of the reason is one person is afraid to come report when they send. Traveling and most importantly, our children, those are children here and they're in school, let children be their children. But now those kids have their stress and their fear within them when they go to school, if something happen in the school, they being afraid to involve their parents because thinking that they're gonna expose their parents.

So we wanna work together as a community. And what I'm saying is not what the textbook is saying because data can be the saving at sometimes. I'm talking about the human impacts that we have witnessed based on our community involvement. And I have experienced some of our staff have experienced and some of the community I would.

So that is all I just wanted to put in about the 287G. It, it's just I'm over-policing when it comes to the immigrant community. That's the shot. I just.

That's wild because it seems that the, uh, the issues that are, I love saying ridiculous things. Uh, the issues that are impacting immigrant communities are the same issues that are impacting other communities of people who are not immigrants, both figure. Um, but the, uh, Marcela, you had something that she wanted to contribute as well.

Pepper Roussel

So, so just what, what Sara and what Dauda said is just amazing. But then there's one more thing. So we all make mistakes, all of us, because we're human beings. That's our nature, right? What determines when a person makes a mistake? A person goes to jail, pay the time, and goes back home. Right to their families.

They reunite after they pay their time. But what happens to our people that make a mistake, they get sent back to the place where they were flying initially because of safety. And we're not talking about criminals and we're not talk, we're talking about separating families in here. This is a big issue.

Now, what Dauda was saying is very important. This 287 G agreement promotes the fear of community members to law enforcement agents. And we don't want that because we want to have to feel safe and secure in this community. And the 287 G agreement does completely the opposite in our immigrant and refugee communities.

It literally, Make so much fear into our families that just like Dowda was saying, our domestic violence, our students, our kids, our youth, everyone is afraid of law enforcement. We are here at Lori trying to close that gap in between law enforcement agents and our communities. How can we do that job if we don't have the support from law enforcement, if we don't have that dedication and that support from those who are saying they're seeking for safety of our communities?

That's just a big question mark for all of you to think about. If we want our community safe, let's just have all of our communities to be safe, not, let's not exclude our immigrant and our refugee communities because those communities are also part of this community.

That makes me think about something that I wanna say. SK said a few times that you, uh, the communities that we deem safe, and how we apply safety to those communities speak a lot about who we are.

So if you have any questions, please put them in the chat. Um, I wanna talk or ask those of you who are on the panel, um, since we are celebrating Juneteenth, um, Donna did, did make me think, were they profiling you because you're black or profiling you because you're an immigrant?

Did they just, you know, get the jackpot when they heard your accent? I don't know. But, you know, um, the fun times. Um, additionally we've got folks who. Are fleeing, not, uh, so rather, let me reframe the folks that are fleeing their country, whether it be because of war, because of, uh, the, the, the no jobs. There may be issues with the environment as in no water.

Think, you know, um, um, the, the issues with Arab Springs a few years ago, but there's also, uh, a huge issue with folks who are fleeing and seeking asylum. And I can't remember which one of you was saying that there is no process for asylum and, um, but because of either gender identity or sexual orientation, is that something that you'll help with?

Or is this, is it just any immigrant, uh, with an issue or do you specifically try to help those as well as there a specific, um, focus on those asking for pride month.

Thank you for your questions.

Um, only is everything. Um, that's why we know issues, um, complex issues. This we are holistic. We are not doing alone. We have tons of partners that we work with and we have national workers and other institutions that will, if it comes to the world, we, um, and organizations, um, uh, we are working nationally, number one.

Um, so to and explore asylum process backlog is huge and on see how that can be. And also times has changed, um, situation of change and we've seen countries has becoming LBGTQI+. Sometimes is in other parts of the world. And, and so we are looking to see how our electric officials, like I said, um, and we look at our, their asylum process and criteria years and make it just as situation of changes for, um, recently, I think a month I was in March testifying out of state, um, for take the refugee to me and I asylum.

Pepper Roussel

So it's a work in progress and process is, and that's what I always say. And hopefully each and every one of you here will be part of this process. And so we locally here, we want to make sure our family here, our community here is safe where I need to go. So let's go home. Let start to build a welcom and community right here and road.

We don't have what it takes. And, and then I move from there, from the city can go through state tomorrow. That's even what we take. You have hard it change image road and move here. That city say the world that when image is something I'm proud of, uh, believe male, our professor members, they're not proud of that as well.

Yeah. They are not let's me The change. Yes. And are saying that it's like the Louisiana gumbo. We are all, we are all right here. That gumbo, that is the main analogy for the cook time, which is even though you gonna enjoy the gumbo, all the ingredients for the ingredient, the cold, like that's a whole. It's cheap, but it tastes different because of blending with s and it tastes unique and sweet and whatever the shrimp, if it's a seafood, it doesn't lost everything, but when you taste it, it taste it.

So, and monkey pin is, it's one of ingredient is missing from that gumbo. It's not gonna taste the same again. It gonna have a completely different taste. That is powerful for one of our taste here. For

that is thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Um, Casey, did you want to close this out?

Casey Phillips

No, I, I'm great. Uh, thank you for the, the powerful session. Um, may, you know, it was said several times in the, uh, in the chat, but, um, There's one thing for people to talk cerebrally about issues in our country, um, in the world, and there's others when people bring their lived experience and they're willing to share that, um, you know, with that level of vulnerability and that level of power that I feel really shaped, um, change, right?

So I just want to appreciate and hold that space and thank you all, uh, for doing that today. And that's all. That's the thank y'all very much for the impactful moment, and thank you for the work you do, LORI. Um, and I said I will be there next Saturday to celebrate with you all. Thank You'all. Wow. Thank you.

Pepper Roussel

We hope to see you all here from this girl. Go. Thank you so very much for being here today. Thank you for sharing the work that you do. Thank you for making it accessible, right? So, um, not to be flippant, but to know and understand that the work that you do is, is work that's needed in every aspect of life, right?

So whether it be the, it's. A driver's license, um, connections to jobs, to housing, to transportation. Um, thank you. Thank you for being here. Thank you for taking the time and, um, and a special thanks to I really, Manny, I didn't know that. Manny and Manny's hair is first gen.

Thank you Marcela for, uh, for helping to translate. Um, next time Leti’s English will be better. My Spanish will be better. It's all gonna work out that much better. If we have any additional announcements, please drop them in the chats and or share them here. Let us know what's going on this weekend.

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