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From Toledo to Youngstown and Oberlin to Dayton, Ohioans Mobilize for Immigrants Like Never Before

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It’s Now Up to Congress to Pass Critical Legislation Addressing the Status of Dreamers

Cleveland, OH – Yesterday,  Donald Trump made a cowardly decision, sending his Attorney General to deliver bad news to 800,000 Americans with DACA – and thousands of other young people who are finally old enough to apply for the first time.  (For more on what DACA is and who qualified, see this piece from Vox.)

By ending DACA, Trump put in limbo the lives and futures of hundreds of thousands of young people who grew up in this country and consider it home.  Approximately 5,000 Ohioans have DACA, and an additional 4,000 could become eligible if the program remained in place.  These Ohioans contributemore than $14 million in state and local taxes every year, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

The reaction from Ohioans all across the state has been nothing short of intense.  From the Governor’s mansion to the rural corners of the state, Ohioans are standing up for Dreamers and calling on our congressional delegation to pass the Dream Act ASAP.

Said Lynn Tramonte, Director of Ohio’s Voice:

Trump’s decision created a crisis for Americans with DACA, their employers, and their loved ones.  People who have grown up here and know no other home are suddenly finding their ability to work, drive a car legally, support their families, and plan for the future in limbo.  It’s right and good that so many Ohioans from all across the state are standing up and speaking out in support of Dreamers. We need our leaders in Congress to move now from talk into action.  The Dream Act has become a must-pass bill in Congress.  We expect Republicans and Democrats to do everything in their power to turn Dream into law this year.

At the installation mass for Cleveland Bishop Nelson Perez, which took place just hours after Trump’s decision was known, Bishop Perez asked for prayers for immigrantsfacing deportation.

Today, on CBS This Morning, Governor John Kasich saidthat Dreamers are welcome in Ohio, and called on Congress to pass legislation resolving their immigration status once and for all:

[Imagine if] you were one of these young people striving to be a part of America and to make something of yourself and all of a sudden somebody tells you one day you may be deported to a country you know nothing about. We want them in America. Now Congress has six months. It should take six hours to get this done.

The way I think they need to do it is to get reasonable Republicans and Democrats from the middle and build out a solution to this. And what’s the solution? The simple fact is they ought to be able to stay here, have permanent resident status, stay and continue to contribute and take this cloud from over their heads.

Kasich’s position aligns with majorities of Americans of all ideologies, according to multiple polls.  Perhaps the most visible evidence of the strong backing for Dreamers, however, is the fact that rallies and community events sprung up all across the state, in reaction to Trump’s decision.  Another major event is being planned in Clevelandtomorrow.

Indivisible Toledo was first out of the gate with their Defend DACA Rally that took place at noon after the DACA announcement.  They rallied outside of Senator Portman’s office.  The University of Toledo and Bowling Green University also issued statements in support of Dreamers and passing related legislation.

In Columbus, Indivisible 15 hosted a rally in support of DACA and Dreamers at The Ohio State University. Hundreds of students and community members gathered to stand with Columbus undocumented youth. OSU President Drake issued a statement calling on Congress to “act immediately and allow DACA students to continue their pursuit of the American Dream.” After the rally, Dreamers from OSU and Columbus State meet at a local church to develop a plan of action for the next six months.

In Dayton, the Dayton is for Dreamers! Rally organized byOrganizing For Action Montgomery/Greene County and Dayton Indivisible for All took place outside of Rep. Mike Turner’s office.  Sara Hamdi, a local Dreamer, told theDayton Daily News: “I am scared and I know it’s been said plenty of times but I feel like this was setting us up.  They can come show up at our doors now…I don’t know if tomorrow I will still be in Englewood, Ohio with my family.”  Sinclair Community College, University of Dayton, Wright State University, and Miami University all issued statements of support.

Cincinnati hosted the Rally to Defend DACA and Pass the Dream Act, organized by IJPC YES – Youth Educating SocietyNKY Chapter of Kentuckians for the CommonwealthNKY March For Racial Justice and Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center.  Media coverage and a photo gallery are available here.

Today, Heyra Avila of Florence, KY published an op-ed in the Cincinnati Enquirer that said: “I used my new DACAmented status to work and drive legally, enroll in school with hopes of using my degree for a better future and to help my community.”  In light of Trump’s decision on DACA, she wrote, it was all the more imperative for Congress to pass the Dream Act: “The Dream Act would allow DACA-eligible youth a path out of uncertainty and toward permanent residency and reflects the public’s will. I hope Kentucky and Ohio lawmakers will support it and push for a vote on it in September for the sake of all of its residents, DACAmented or not.”

In Youngstown, community members came together to support DACA and Dreamers.  The Vindicator reports:

Vicki Vicars, one of the protest’s organizers, implored people to take two actions. The first is to contact their senators and representatives to have the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM) brought back to the Congress floor.

DREAM is a proposal providing a track for undocumented minors to gain conditional and permanent residency.

“The second is that people who are beneficiaries of DACA need to know that we’ve got their back,” Vicars said, “that we want them here, that we value them here and that we’ve got their back. There are people in the Valley who care about the young people who have been here.”

At Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, the student group La Alianza held a rally entitled “Outraged and Unafraid: La Alianza Supports DACA.”  The event was featured on WKYC Channel 3.  Cleveland.com reported that in addition to Case, Oberlin College, Kent State University, and The Ohio State University, among others, expressed support for DACA and undocumented students.

In Oberlin, students, community members, and the Lorain Ohio Immigrant Rights Coalition held a “We Support DACA” Vigil, covered by both the Morning Journal and Cleveland.com.

Tomorrowgreater Cleveland-area Dreamers will give testimony at a candlelight vigil organized by DreamActivist Ohio, Cleveland Jobs With Justice, Indivisible CLE, LOIRA, Ohio’s Voice, InterReligious Task Force, Greater Cleveland Immigrant Support Network, Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus, and Eleonor Ramirez.  More info can be found on the event’s Facebook page and media advisory.

For more on DACA and Dreamers in Ohio, see:

  • Quotes: Trump Ends DACA – Ohio Dreamers and Leaders React
  • Memo: Economics and politics of DACA in Ohio
  • Letter: Business leaders stand up for Dreamers
  • Letter: College and university leaders stand up for Dreamers
  • Letter: We Are With Dreamers national statement