Today I went to meet with staff for my state attorney general, Mike DeWine, in Columbus about the lawsuit against the DACA expansion and DAPA.
I’m so proud of the folks who attended this meeting with Ohio’s Voice. They were a mix of Americans and immigrants, Ohioans of all ages, united in the belief that our great state should not be part of a Republican legal stunt that harms its own families.
I’m proud of young Jocelyn, who spoke bravely to two senior DeWine advisors about the prospect of life without her mom, before breaking down in emotion.
I’m proud of Manny and Ashley Bartsch, who owe Manny’s reprieve from deportation so many years ago to Mike DeWine. Now Manny is “safe” with DACA, but he’s staying involved for all the others living in fear, and took a day off work to travel down to support them. Manny opened up our meeting today.
I’m proud of Julie Nemecek, Fatin Askar, and David Leopold–three of the best immigration lawyers in the country–who are genuine advocates for their clients because they care.
I’m proud of Gladys and her son Andrew, who went all the way to Iowa to pin down our Governor John Kasich on the lawsuit and then to Columbus to see what the AG’s office had to say. During our meeting, Gladys tied all the strands of our disparate stories together in a simple plea: stop the attacks on our Ohio families. They love this country and just want to live here in peace.
DeWine’s staff listened to our stories but when it came time for them to talk they hid behind the lawsuit, refusing to engage on the substance at all. I asked if they had met with families before signing onto the lawsuit and they dodged the question. It’s clear they did not. They claimed they do not make decisions based on partisan politics, but it’s hard to see this lawsuit as anything but a political exercise.
Of course, it’s not just an exercise for the families in the room and the thousands of others in Ohio today. It’s not about abstract legal principles, it’s about real lives.
We were listened to today, but I don’t know if we were heard. I asked when the advisors would be able to talk to DeWine about our concerns and let us know what he said, but there was no clear answer. No answer to that or to the more fundamental question, the one Manny asked at the beginning of our meeting. DeWine used to be a supporter of immigrants–even a champion–regardless of his political party. And now he’s lock-step with the GOP anti-Obama immigration campaign, going so far as to harm the very families he used to support. What happened to change his mind?
Watch some of the folks who attended today’s meeting discuss their experiences below.