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Between Republican and Democratic Conventions – And Republican and Democratic Senate Candidates – Two Contrasting Visions of Immigrants and America

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Senator Portman and Gov. Strickland polar opposites on immigration

As the Democratic National Convention (DNC) kicks off today in Philadelphia, the contrast between the two parties’ larger visions of America could not be more clear or consequential. The issue of immigration, and the way immigrants are portrayed and featured at the two parties’ conventions, underscores this point.

Last week in Cleveland, the GOP adopted Trump’s border wall as their official platform, showing that Trump’s xenophobic, racist, and anti-immigrant rhetoric is not isolated to him but has become the guiding ethos of the Republican Party.  A panel, convened by Ohio’s Voice and the Latino Victory Fund, asked whether the Republican Party is up to the challenge of embracing the new American electorate in 2016, and found the answer to be a resounding no.

In stark contrast, the DNC kicks off this week with the most progressive platform on immigration in history, which includes support for comprehensive immigration reform, the DACA and DAPA programs, an end to family detention, and the guarantee of legal counsel for Central American refugees.  Complementing this platform is a speaker list that includes undocumented Americans and, for the first time, a DAPA-eligible parent, who will deliver her remarks in Spanish.

The contrasts between the parties are clear in the U.S. Senate race here, as well. Senator Portman, who voted against the Senate immigration reform bill in 2013, has embraced Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda that includes the deportation of DREAMers and the parents of US Citizens.

Meanwhile, Gov. Ted Strickland has pledged his support for immigration reform, criticized the state-based lawsuit against the DACA and DAPA programs, and recently took a few hours out of his busy campaign schedule to share a meal and conversation with Lorain-based mixed status families as part of the national DAPA Dinners initiative.

“Senator Rob Portman has hitched his wagon to Donald Trump,” said Lynn Tramonte, Director of Ohio’s Voice. “Obviously, he’s spent too much time in Washington because Portman doesn’t realize that many of us in Ohio reject Trump’s narrow-minded vision for the country.  In stark contrast, at the Democratic Convention this week we’ll see Ohio and national Democrats embracing today’s America in all its diversity. Yes, our country has a lot of problems we need to solve, but we’ll only get there by working together – not holding on to romantic, misguided notions of the past.”