A crowd of several hundred pro-immigrant activists blocked the intersection of Loyola Avenue and Poydras Street for several hours Thursday afternoon to protest what they describe as “harsh” and “devastating” tactics by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. The protest, organized by the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice, resulted in the arrest of 18 immigrants and four activists. Saket Soni, executive director of the Center for Racial Justice and one of those arrested, said ICE has rolled out a new program in the New Orleans area called the Criminal Alien Removal Initiative. Instead of targeting specific individuals, typically those considered dangerous or with criminal backgrounds, for deportation, Soni said ICE has been conducting indiscriminate raids in grocery stores, Laundromats, Bible study groups, and parks, picking up anyone who looks Latino.
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