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OneRouge Friday Community Check-In Week 87

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in EBR, The Walls Project has been hosting weekly video calls with leaders of nonprofits, foundations, city government, and local businesses from a

cross the parish. The intention of these weekly community check-ins is to share information and resources to help the Baton Rouge community respond and recover from the pandemic. Weekly topics range from access to basic needs such as food, medical care, and safety to thought-leaders' insights on equitable opportunities for youth enrichment, nonprofit financial solvency, surge in unemployment, and the disproportionate impact on impoverished neighborhoods in regards to accessing fresh food.



'286(g) Agreement'

Meeting Notes Prepared by Samantha Morgan (Walls Project)

Jared Hymowitz, Director of the Mayor’s Healthy City Initiative, City of Baton Rouge

Early on, there was a high positivity rate and low amount of cases. As test kits became more available, we had a lot of tests and low positivity. The difference with Omicron, we have a huge positivity rate, and that means there’s a lot of COVID in the community. We’re at a 28% positivity rate at the end of December. That’s going to go up.

We’ve had over a million tests in EBR. There are two types of tests:

  1. Molecular/ PCR - it is a test that gets sent to a lab and gets processed.

  2. Antigen are the rapid tests. They can be done in a clinic or pharmacy.

  • We’ve had 76,000 total cases in our community. Deaths, over 1,000 confirmed deaths in EBR parish. It’s important that we continue to look at racial breakdowns. We know there are social determinants of health. Outreach and messaging are key. It’s also about access.

  • Omicron is very contagious and we have a lot of virus in our community.

  • Antigen tests are not perfect but they are still a valuable tool.

  • We need to protect our healthcare workers. We need to protect our hospitals.

  • Wear a Mask, Wash Your Hands, if you feel sick stay home, if you have covid-19 symptoms get tested and know your status.

  • We have a shortage of tests in our community. If you’re going to the clinics and you want the rapid test, it’s likely you’re not going to get it. The PCR is going to tell you whether you have it or not. The rapid might give you a false negative.

  • Our healthcare workers are our priority. If you want to go to the doctor or the emergency room, you need those healthcare workers. They’re getting covid. They’re having to stay home. They’re leaving their jobs because they are overburdened.

  • We also need to protect our hospitals. You’re waiting three to four hours in an emergency room. Oscher and the Lake are reporting double the volume because people are going to the emergency room to get tested and they should not be doing that.

  • Omicron symptoms are different. People are not losing their sense of taste. They’re getting things like night sweats and coughs.

  • Get vaccinated, get boosted. That’s the only way we are going to get out of this.

Nathalia Rocha Dickson (Founder, Dickson Law Firm)

  • 287(g) agreement is an agreement between ICE with the local law enforcement that deputizes the local police. The federal government gives the local law enforcement, in this case EBRSO, gives them the opportunity to perform the federal agent’s duties. They’re given this power to find and arrest undocumented individuals until ICE is able to come pick the person up and take them.

  • We are pushing very hard for the sheriff to end this agreement. We think this is very prejudicial.

  • We think it profiles people and the immigrant community will lose faith in law enforcement. We want these people to be here and be part of this community.

  • What is the right way of getting here? And once they are here, how should they be treated? We do believe this is an unfair agreement.

Homero López (Legal Director, ISLA)

  • We’ve seen racial profiling at the criminal level due to 287(g)

  • Louisiana is currently the state with the second largest detained population. Out in central Louisiana, in areas where people typically don’t go to. It’s far away from metropolitan areas. The closest one is 2 hours away from Baton Rouge. And that’s where we’re detaining people.

  • In 2018, Louisiana expanded. It expanded from 2,000 to at the end of 2019 to 70,000 people.

  • People used to be released to their families and their communities. We used to release them, we don’t do that anymore. Louisiana started housing people in that situation.

  • What that led to is expansion of detention centers. The reason the expansion happened is because in 2017 there were these wonderful criminal justice reform bills. It let a lot of people out of jail. ICE comes in and says you already have this great infrastructure, put a little paint on it and we’ll pay you double what the state was paying you to become a federal detention center. It was really expensive on the state before 2017. The same incentive doesn’t exist.

  • The Remain in Mexico policy. If you’re not from Mexico and you show up at the Mexican border seeking asylum, ICE will make you stay in Mexico while you go to your court dates. In order to apply for asylum you have to be in the US. There’s no process for you to do it while you’re out of the country. Asylum is a legal method to come to the United States. They are going through the legal process.


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