A Honduran man who was injured while working in the unfinished Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans as it collapsed last week is in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement awaiting deportation.
Attorneys representing Delmer Ramirez, along with several other workers injured in the deadly collapse, say that their client was detained shortly after he spoke about the accident on a Spanish-language news network.
Ramirez’s attorney Daryl Grey said he was concerned that his client was significantly injured. As of Friday afternoon, Grey said, his client had not yet received the appropriate medical treatment while in custody.
“I’m more concerned about his treatment within ICE custody,” Grey told HuffPost on Friday.
At a news conference earlier Friday, Grey said Ramirez was “injured and in need of surgery.”
A portion of the Hard Rock Hotel, which was still under construction in the heart of the French Quarter, collapsed Oct. 12, killing at least three people and injuring 20 others. Through the Wright, Pichon & Grey law firm, Ramirez and four others filed a lawsuit seeking damages for the injuries they sustained when the construction site caved in on the workers.
ICE spokesperson Bryan Cox confirmed to HuffPost that Ramirez was currently in custody and awaiting deportation to Honduras. However, he denied that ICE was the agency that arrested him.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife agents first found Ramirez fishing without the proper license at the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge, 14 miles east of New Orleans, on Monday, according to ICE. From there, he was arrested by U.S. Border Patrol due to an outstanding deportation order from a federal immigration judge dating to February 2016.
A Border Patrol spokesperson told the New Orleans Advocate that USFW agents called Border Patrol agents to the scene when Ramirez could only produce “foreign citizen documentation.”
HuffPost has reached out to USFW for comment.
Ramirez had been to the hospital before he was arrested but Grey said he needed follow-up care.
Cox couldn’t disclose details of detainees’ medical treatments, though he said that anyone detained by ICE custody receives an initial medical evaluation within 12 hours of being brought into custody and a comprehensive medical exam within 14 days.
He said that any claims that ICE was targeting undocumented workers who were hurt at the construction site were “frankly offensive and outrageously false.”
Ramirez’s custody and pending deportation have left other undocumented injured workers too afraid to seek medical or legal help, according to Grey.
“I’ve spoken to several individuals, and they’re fearful. I’ve spoken to family members, and they’re fearful. They’re in fear that if they come forward, they’re going to be deported, arrested, detained,” he said. “They don’t have the ability to get the help and the medical attention that they need.”
Ramirez has been in the U.S. since 2000 and worked in construction for the last 10 years, according to Grey.