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Worker Hurt in New Orleans Collapse Gets Shown the Door

Delmer Joel Ramirez Palma, 38, was flown to Honduras
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 30, 2019 7:50 PM CST
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In a Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019 file photo, workers are raised in a crane bucket to prepare two unstable cranes for implosion at the collapse site of the Hard Rock Hotel, which underwent a partial, major collapse while under construction last Sat., Oct., 12, in New Orleans.   (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

(Newser) – A construction worker hurt in last month’s collapse of the Hard Rock Hotel construction site in New Orleans has been deported to his native Honduras on Friday, the AP reports. The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Bryan Cox said Delmer Joel Ramirez Palma, 38, was flown to Honduras from Alexandria International Airport, which is near several ICE detention facilities in central Louisiana. Border Patrol officers arrested Ramirez Palma two days after he fell several stories as the upper floors of the hotel project caved in on Oct. 12. Workplace safety advocates had hoped he could remain in the US to facilitate the federal investigation of the collapse, which killed three workers and left dozens more injured.

"We're deeply concerned about the gaping hole this leaves in the investigation into the Hard Rock Hotel collapse," said Mary Yanik of the New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice. She said she believes his arrest was in retaliation for reporting to a supervisor about construction shortcuts before the collapse, and for comments he made to reporters afterward. Cox countered that any such claims "are patently false and irresponsible." Ramirez Palma had been fighting a deportation order since 2016, and had lost an appeal. "Mr. Ramirez Palma’s latest application for a stay of removal had already been denied by ICE on Oct. 3, more than a week prior to the incident cited by his supporters," Cox said.

(Read more deportation stories.)

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