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Former Governor Strickland Meets With Ohio Immigrant Families and Community Leaders As Part of “DAPA Dinners” Campaign

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Former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland broke bread with community leaders and Ohio immigrant families as part of the nationwide DAPA Dinners campaign today in Lorain.  Lorain City Council Member Angel Arroyo; Lorain Police Chief Cel RiveraVictor Leandry, Executive Director of El Centro de Servicios Sociales; and Father Bill Thaden of Sacred Heart Church also attended the dinner with Lorain Ohio Immigrant Rights Association (LOIRA) leaders and member families. The event was organized by LOIRA, Cleveland Jobs with Justice, and Ohio’s Voice.

To see photos and video of the Lorain DAPA Dinner with Governor Strickland, click here.

The DAPA Dinners campaign invites 2016 political candidates, Senators, and Members of Congress of all parties to join immigrant families for a meal to discuss how U.S. immigration actions impact children, families, and communities.  While Governor Strickland accepted the groups’ request, Senator Rob Portman declined the invitation back in February.

The families who attended the DAPA Dinner are “mixed status”— Ohio families made up of U.S. citizen, DACA recipient, and undocumented members who would be eligible for the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program.  They have resided in this country and state for years, paying taxes and raising their families.

Governor Strickland said “The stories I heard tonight have underscored the need for the Senate to pass comprehensive immigration reform that keeps families together. Unfortunately, our leaders in Washington are prioritizing partisan politics instead of trying to tackle this urgent challenge. Additionally, the recent Supreme Court rulings regarding our immigration system have only continued to demonstrate why Senator Portman’s refusal to do his job and consider the Supreme Court nominee is so harmful for our country. I want to thank the participants in this dinner who shared their stories with me tonight, and I hope that more of our leaders take advantage of this kind of opportunity to hear directly from the individuals and families being impacted by our immigration policy.”

Jose Mendiola, President of LOIRA, said “DAPA Dinners bring to light the situation of what is happening with the 11.5 million undocumented immigrants in this country. Candidates and politicians alike need to hear these stories face to face. While the undocumented immigrant population cannot vote, their family, friends, and neighbors can vote. The DAPA Dinners campaign allows everyone to be a bit more informed about the political process in this country.

Anabel Barron, Vice President of LOIRA, said “The DAPA Dinners are important because they foster a sense of understanding. Through these conversations, the politicians can relate to the case of immigration and remember that, through their policy decisions, they can improve immigrants lives in a big way. The immigrant community has been voiceless for too long. But now, we know people are listening. We are going to keep fighting, continue doing these dinners, and collaborating with anyone who is willing until we have comprehensive immigration reform.”

Deb Kline, Director of Cleveland Jobs with Justice said, “The Supreme Court decision may have gone against us on DAPA and the DACA expansion, but it has served to make us even more determined to push for comprehensive immigration reform in the coming months.”

Attendees at the Lorain DAPA Dinner included:

Soledad, 28 years old, who has been in the United States for nine years.  Her husband Saul is a seasonal worker.  They have three U.S. citizen children, all under ten years old and Soledad is DAPA-eligible.

Sylvia and Victor, who immigrated to the United States from Oaxaca, Mexico twenty years ago. They have three children: one is a U.S. citizen and the other two are still in Mexico. They have not been able to see these children since arriving in the United States.  Both parents are DAPA-eligible.

Maria, a homemaker, and Jose, a construction worker, who arrived in the United States fifteen years ago. They have one child, a U.S. citizen, making them eligible for DAPA.

Leovigilda, who was born in Mexico and immigrated to the United States eleven years ago. She has two daughters, one who is a U.S. citizen and another who applied for DACA.  Leovigilida is a housekeeper and her husband works in agriculture. Because they are parents of a U.S. citizen they are eligible for DAPA.

Salvador and Guadalupe, who were born in Mexico and arrived in the United States fifteen years ago. They have four children – three U.S. citizens and one who is a DACA recipient. Salvador works in agriculture.  Recently, Salvador and Guadalupe purchased an ownership stake in the farm where he has worked since his arrival in the United States.

Unfortunately, DAPA and the expansion of DACA remain stalled due to a GOP-sponsored lawsuit–which Attorney General Mike DeWine Supports–and an impasse at the U.S. Supreme Court.  These families are but a fraction of the 34,000 Ohio immigrants who stand to benefit from the President’s actions in 2014, if allowed to proceed.

For more information on how implementing DAPA and expanded DACA would help Ohio, read this fact sheet from Ohio’s Voice.

Follow this campaign on social media via the hashtag #DAPADinners.