Two separate letters from a state agency investigating the collapse and Ramirez Palma's lawyer say he was very sincere about alleged defective working conditions at the Hard Rock site, which they believe was linked to Ramirez Palma's deportation back to Honduras.
US immigration and customs services said deportation was underway before the hotel collapsed.
"The allegations that Ramirez Palma's removal was linked to media statements are clearly false and irresponsible," said Bryan Cox, a spokesman for US Immigration and Customs. "Ramirez Palma's latest request for suspension had already been denied by ICE on October 3, more than a week before the incident cited by his supporters."
Ramirez Palma's deportation order was issued in February 2016 and the appeal was dismissed in November 2018, said Homero Lopez, his immigration lawyer.
"He had to go to a checkup on November 1 to provide evidence that he had the necessary travel documents," Lopez wrote in an email to CNN. "He had a valid passport that he brought when he was arrested."
This incident may cause other potential whistleblowers to remain silent, the New Orleans Workers' Racial Justice Center said in a statement.
"Delmer Joel Ramirez Palma's deportation makes each of us less secure," the statement said. "The next time a building collapses, we will know if that could have been avoided if our federal agencies had prioritized responses and accountability for Hard Rock survivors … it should worry all Americans."
CNN tried to contact the employers of Ramirez Palma, Rey Co., Inc. and King Co., but had no response.
Ramirez Palma barely survived collapse, says wife
Ramirez Palma worked at the Hard Rock site for three months before the collapse, according to a November 21 complaint to the US Department of Labor by her lawyer, Mary Yanik, of the New Orleans Workers' Racial Justice Center.
"Mr. Ramirez Palma repeatedly raised safety concerns for supervisors and had a reputation for talking about workplace safety issues," Yanik wrote in the complaint.
His supervisors told him, "If he didn't want to do the work, they would find others to do it. He interpreted it as meaning he would be fired," Yanik said, adding that this was also said to other workers. .
Ramirez Palma began to notice "extraordinarily large" discrepancies during the construction of the building, Yanik said. In his 17 years as a construction worker, Ramirez Palma saw floor measurements that were between 0.75 and 1.25 inches, but at Hard Rock he noticed measurements at 2 inches, Yanik said.
"Ramirez Palma specifically gave the alarm about the building not being leveled several times on more than 5 different occasions," said Yanik, adding that his client was instructed to return to work.
According to the complaint, one day before the collapse, Ramirez Palma was working on the 14th floor and noticed that the ground was moving like a small earthquake.
"He also noted that laser measurements show the laser visibly moving from 5 to 10 cm markings up and down, showing that the building was moving," according to the complaint.
When the building collapsed on October 12, Ramirez Palma had to jump from the eighth to the seventh floor and pass out, said his wife Tania Bueso. CNN WGNO-TV Affiliate.
"(He) doesn't remember much after that … (he) woke up … someone was giving him water … he couldn't breathe," she said.
After the collapse, the workers approached Ramirez Palma crying and told Ramirez Palma that he was right about the building being dangerous, as several supervisors were within reach, Yanik said.
ICE arrests Ramirez Palma two days after the collapse
Two days after the collapse, Ramirez Palma was arrested after being stopped by US Fish and Wildlife Service officers at the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge in New Orleans, according to a US Customs and Border Protection statement. .
"Ramirez (-Palma) was fishing without a license and when FWS officials asked for more identification, he was unable to present a valid driver's license and had only foreign citizenship documentation," the statement said.
CBP officials determined that Ramirez Palma was in the US illegally and had a removal order issued in February 2016, the statement said.
However, Yanik said in the complaint that Ramirez Palma had a valid fishing license and had shown it to wildlife officials when requested.
In the complaint, Yanik said Ramirez Palma was instructed not to attend a meeting at King Construction Co. on Monday following the collapse in which other workers discussed monetary compensation for the collapse. Instead, according to the complaint, Ramirez Palma went fishing, but was followed by a man who later identified himself as an employee of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, who fined him for unlicensed fishing.
A few minutes later, Border Patrol officers arrived and arrested him, Yanick said.
The timing of Ramirez Palma's arrest is "definitely suspect," said his immigration lawyer, Homero Lopez. Ramirez Palma had a scheduled check-in on November 1st, to which Ramirez Palma "definitely" planned to go, Lopez said.
Ramirez Palma wanted to stay in the US, but because of his medical condition and the "suffering" his family is going through, Ramirez Palma decided not to file a motion to reopen his case because it would prolong his detention, Lopez said.
"The system is set up so that people give up their cases," Lopez said.
Ava Dejoie, secretary of the Louisiana Labor Force Commission, wrote to DHS on November 27, requesting the release of Ramirez Palma, and his deportation was stopped because he was a "crucial witness" to the collapse investigation. Investigations like this take time and require interviews with multiple witnesses, she said.
"After a disaster of this scale, the public needs all the information available to understand what happened in the workplace, including information from Ramirez Palma and workers like him who witnessed security breaches before the collapse," Dejoie wrote. "The investigations will undoubtedly suffer."
CNN's Tina Burnside and Jamiel Lynch contributed to this report.
. (tagsToTranslate) us (t) ICE deported a worker injured in the collapse of the Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans (t) his lawyers claim he was shot – CNN