Open Letter to Mayor Cantrell

Dear Mayor Cantrell,

Grandparents, moms, dads, teedys all know how important it is to keep each other safe. It’s what we do here in New Orleans. We take care of each other. Amidst the storms, the floods, the violence, and sometimes having to go without– we always show up for each other. It’s what we do here.

We do not need to justify the right to safety, having access to a living wage so that we can provide for loved ones, and being able to live close to family in order to build community. We are a city that is made up of families. We lift up our families. It’s what we do here.

It is our right to feel safe in our homes and in our city. Yet strangers knock on our immigrant neighbors’ doors, barge in with guns, and rip families apart. On blocks every day, ICE agents are spreading fear and hopelessness in our communities. In Uptown, the East, Michoud, Mid-city– we see ICE agents raiding homes and making arrests. ICE has made over 1,200 arrests over the last two years in New Orleans. Not surprisingly, about 96% of immigrants detained in Louisiana who do not have a lawyer are deported. Many of them were our parents, sisters, and brothers who were stripped away from their children, families, schools, soccer teams, churches and communities.

We are a city that has continuously led on fairness with the championing of historic laws such as unanimous jury. When one of us is down, we pitch in– it’s what’s fair. Just like our immigrant neighbors helped us rebuild our city after Hurricane Katrina when the levees broke, digging us out of the muck and slime and making our homes whole. When our state and region have needed an example of compassion and fairness, we have led. It’s what we do here.

City Councilmember Jason Williams has proposed $440,000 in next year’s budget for a program to provide legal representation for immigrants facing deportation. This budget would fund positions within  the Orleans Public Defenders office and ISLA (Immigration Services & Legacy Advocacy). Immigrants facing deportation must have access to a public defender and legal representation. New Orleans must continue to lead on human rights by ensuring legal representation for our families.

It has been a tough couple of years for our immigrant neighbors and as we lead up to the presentation of your budget, we sincerely ask that you include this $440,000. New Orleans has the opportunity to continue to lead on keeping families’ connections in our city, and human rights by ensuring that all families are safe in our city. We are a compassionate, loving, and diverse city. These qualities make New Orleans a beacon to the world. Let’s continue to shine our light and lead. It’s what we do here.


American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
Jesuit Social Research Institute at Loyola
The Juror Project
New Orleans Family Justice Center
New Orleans Workers Center for Racial Justice
New Orleans Youth Alliance (NOYA)
Our Voice Nuestra Voz (OVNV)
Project Butterfly
Project Ishmael
Public Allies New Orleans
Puentes New Orleans
Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)
Urban League of Louisiana
Voice of the Experienced (VOTE)

Health Care Providers
Sue Ellen Abdalian, MD
Tania Boniske MD
Dr. Houston Bonnyman,MD
Virginia Byron, MD – New Orleans Social Medicine Consortium
John Carlson, MD PhD
Dr. Jessa Derania, DO
Julie Finger, MD, MPH – Adolescent Medicine
Marcia Glass, MD
Mary Margaret Gleason, MD- Pediatrics, Psychiatry, Child Psychiatry
Ian Gold, MD
Jason Halperin, MD MPH – CrescentCare
Margaret Huntwork, MD
M. Matias Iberico, MD, MPH – Internal Medicine
Jonah Kreniske, MD – New Orleans Social Medicine Consortium
Paige Kretschmar, MD
Natasha Lee, MD
May Moayad, MD
Kimberly Mukerjee, MD MPH – Pediatrician, immigrant and refugee health
Myo Thwin Myint, MD – Child, Adolescent, and Adult Psychiatrist, Pediatrician
Anjali Niyogi, MD, MPH
Lorna Seybolt, MD, MPH
Kristen Slaymaker, DO
Abigail Solomon, 3rd year MD/MPH candidate
Lauren A. Teverbaugh, MD
Brian Turner, PhD

Dana Henry
Marco Balducci
Kristin M. Jones
Hiroko Kusuda
Madeleine M. Landrieu
Salvador G. Longoria
Sister Alison McCrary
Bill Quigley
Nia Weeks

New Orleans Public School Educators
Lauree Akinola-Massaquoi
Toomi Al-Dhahi
María-Alejandra Arauz
Amelia Broussard
Preach Cepeda
Brent Aaron Chapuis
Ann Holleman
Maggie Lanphere
Jessica Medlock
Emma Merrill
Jennifer Molina
Olivia Morales
Kitty O’Connor
Caitlyn O’Toole
Laura Powell
Lilliana Raphael
Julia W. Reagin
Ryan Reso
Lisa Maria Rhodes
Cristina Sanchez
Sonia Scott
Juan Serrano
Gabrielle Steib
Daimont Staples
Emma Wilson
Jasmin Hernandez Zobrist