A construction worker who barely survived the collapse of an unfinished New Orleans hotel is facing deportation—and immigration activists are crying foul, NOLA.com reports. Delmer Joel Ramirez Palma, a Honduran national, was injured when the building collapsed Oct. 12, killing three workers and injuring dozens of others. Ramirez spoke to a Spanish-speaking media outlet about the Hard Rock Hotel collapse and was arrested by Border Patrol agents two days later. Now he's been moved to an immigration holding facility in Louisiana. "The timing is highly suspicious ... and the circumstances of the arrest are extraordinarily suspicious," an attorney at a racial-justice advocacy group in New Orleans tells the Guardian.
At issue are complaints Ramirez apparently made about the building. According to his wife and lawyers, Ramirez had raised concerns about the building's asymmetrical measurements and sagging concrete floors. Attorneys and activists say his arrest might have been retaliation for those complaints, but an ICE spokesman calls that claim "outrageously irresponsible." Meanwhile, Ramirez and four other injured workers are suing developers and construction firms for compensation. How his arrest and pending deportation will affect a probe into the collapse remains unclear, WWLTV reports. His wife says Ramirez has worked in and around New Orleans for 18 years. (Officials set off big blasts a few days after the collapse.)