Tulane students arrested while protesting ICE deportations


Colin Threlkeld, Senior Staff Reporter

At least two Tulane students were among 10 demonstrators arrested Monday afternoon while protesting the pending deportation of Yoel Alonso Leal by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The Tulane students identified so far, Clifford Soloway and Lauren Allen, have been charged with obstructing a public place, a misdemeanor. 

Protestors blocked traffic at the intersection of Poydras Street and Loyola Avenue just outside the ICE field office for about half an hour, chanting, “A life is on the line,” “Free Yoel” and “White silence leads to violence.”

Activists from the Congress of Day Laborers, which organized the protest, told reporters ICE is denying Leal needed medical care after doctors discovered he had lung cancer. 

Though Leal has no criminal record and his wife and two adopted children are currently living with permanent resident status in South Florida, activists say they believe ICE is in the process of deporting him to Cuba.

Protestors also brought attention to Leal’s being among the plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana and the Southern Poverty Law Center against the New Orleans ICE office, whose jurisdiction includes Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas. Plaintiffs are challenging the office’s blanket denial of parole in the cases of nearly all asylum seekers in its custody.

As Bryn Stole notes at nola.com, the New Orleans ICE office granted about 75% of eligible asylum seekers parole in 2016 but has not granted a single request for parole this year.

The fate of Leal remains uncertain. His claim for asylum has already been denied, and his supporters say they fear he will suffer retaliation from the Cuban government should he be deported given the past political persecution he suffered there before fleeing to the U.S.

The Hullabaloo will provide more updates as they become available.

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