NEW ORLEANS – Calling the practice inexcusable and inhumane, the ACLU of Louisiana condemned the reported use of pepper spray against immigrants and asylum-seekers who were protesting their prolonged detention at the Winn Correctional Center in Winnfield, La.

“The use of pepper spray against people exercising their legal right to seek asylum is inexcusable, inhumane, and an affront to basic human rights and dignity,” said Alanah Odoms Hebert, ACLU of Louisiana executive director. “Seeking asylum is a legal right, but across Louisiana, immigrants and refugees are being warehoused in brutal conditions and categorically denied access to humanitarian parole. DHS must conduct a thorough and independent investigation of this incident and immediately restore access to humanitarian parole in compliance with the court order.”

In September, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit from the Southern Poverty Law Center and the ACLU of Louisiana challenging the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) illegal practice of denying parole to detained asylum-seekers who lawfully present themselves at official ports of entry. The injunction requires DHS and the ICE New Orleans Field Office to immediately restore the procedures of parole and access to parole, as mandated by DHS’ own 2009 Parole Directive and the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment.

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