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ICYMI: Lynn Tramonte: “Will Ohio AG Mike DeWine continue to stand up for young people with a dream and no papers?”

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Cleveland Heights, OH  – In a new piece for Cleveland.com, Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice and Director of Ohio’s Voice, challenges Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine to respond to a letter sent last week from the Texas Attorney General to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, on behalf of a lawsuit that DeWine supports. The letter threatens to amend the lawsuit to attack the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Tramonte urges Attorney General DeWine to defend the DACA program and continue supporting young Ohio immigrants “with a dream and no papers.”

Tramonte explains:

Ohio is a plaintiff in the underlying lawsuit that Texas wants to use to end DACA. In 2014, Attorney General Mike DeWine joined Texas and more than a dozen other Republican-led states in challenging the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) policy. This was a new Obama administration plan that would have allowed some undocumented parents of U.S. citizens to obtain legal work permits.

Due to the lawsuit DeWine supported, DAPA never went into effect, and Ohio parents never got the opportunity to apply for basic immigration paperwork. The original DACA program, created in 2012, was not part of this lawsuit.

Second, there are 13,000 young people in Ohio today who stand to benefit from DACA, according to the Migration Policy Institute. Today, these 13,000 Ohioans can get a work permit, driver’s license, and a reprieve from deportation, once they are old enough to apply. Around 5,000 in Ohio have already done so.

So yes, the Texas letter matters in Ohio.

Interestingly, it was co-signed by a handful of states who supported the DAPA lawsuit – but not Ohio.

DeWine’s previous support for immigrants

Despite DeWine’s support for the lawsuit against DAPA, he has previously defended young undocumented immigrants:

He helped Manny Bartsch remain in Ohio instead of being deported to a country he did not know, as a scared and orphaned teenager. DeWine filed a private immigration bill in Congress on Manny’s behalf, and advocated for his release.  Manny now has an American wife and an American son, whom he is able to support because of DACA.   DeWine also helped Jose Mendez and other DACA recipients obtain one of the most important documents needed to live in Ohio – a driver’s license – back when some at the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles tried to treat DACA recipients differently from other individuals with “deferred action.”

Tramonte’s piece, available in full here, concludes with a broader question for all:

With the July 4 holiday just having been marked, it’s also worth noting that the attempt to kill DACA is really calling the question on what it means to be an American. Is being an “American” something in your blood? Is it a birthright? Or is it an experience, a set of values, and a commitment to this country?

The America I love is open to all who embrace a shared future, regardless of whether we have a shared past.  DACA works for this very reason, and Attorney General DeWine must do everything in his power to protect it.