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While Democrats Decry Raids as “Immoral,” Ohio Republicans Alternate Between Silence and Acquiescence

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Lynn Tramonte: “You have a duty to represent all of your constituents.  If you cannot or will not, you are a failed leader.”

Key Ohio Democrats have denounced the military-style immigration raid on Corso’s Flower and Garden Centers last week. Meanwhile, Republicans are either avoiding the issue or towing the party-line.

Senator Sherrod Brown (D) called the raids “immoral” and “insane policy” and has repeatedly expressed concern for the well-being of children whose parents were arrested at work last week.

Like Senator Brown, Representative Marcy Kaptur (D-9) has also been working to assist families whose lives were turned upside down by the raid.  She tweeted: “After years of divisive GOP rhetoric and inaction on real immigration reform, families in Ohio are now being torn apart.  The House GOP needs to get out of the way so we can help people and bring stability to the chaotic, inhumane system that exploits workers.”

Kaptur and Brown’s concerned were echoed by Harry Williamson, Executive Secretary of the Lorain County AFL-CIO:

The inhumane raids at both Corso’s Nursery and their Flower and Garden Center on June 5th were both egregious and despicable.  114 undocumented workers were arrested and sent off to prisons in three different locations in Michigan and Ohio, but just three hours later both Corso’s locations were back open for business as if nothing had happened earlier in the day.   We see this repeatedly across the country when ICE raids businesses; the owners are inconvenienced by losing a couple of hours of business while families are ripped apart and destroyed.

The raids in Erie County will not only have a devastating effect on the families of the workers, but they will also have a negative impact on the local economy in the communities where these workers were living and raising their families.  Doesn’t seem like a very efficient use of the tax dollars it took to involve 200 ICE and Border Patrol Agents in these raids.

The Lorain County AFL-CIO stands with these workers and their families and hopes that others in the Labor community will join us.

Yesterday, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-13) sent a letter to DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen raising concerns with the way the raids were carried out and reminding her that everyone in America is entitled to due process:

Reports suggest the raid was carried out in an unnecessarily aggressive and disruptive manner that subsequently traumatized an entire community.  I write today to seek assurances that none of the detained individuals will be deported without full due process, including access to an attorney, in immigration court. These detained workers, irrespective of where they have come from, what their names are, or what language they speak, deserve a fair and open process. There should be no exceptions.

Furthermore, the people being detained are fathers, mothers, sons and daughters. It is unconscionable to simply rip these people away from their children and families who may depend on them for survival. They have adapted to American culture and have contributed to the betterment of our country and economy in a variety of ways.

Meanwhile, Republican Representatives from northern Ohio are alternately ignoring the issue or siding with Trump’s deportation machine over their own constituents.

We have yet to see comment on the raids from Reps. Gibbs (R-7), Joyce (R-14), and Renacci (R-16).  It is unclear whether quotes attributed to Rep. Jordan (R-4) are responsive to these raids or just represent his general stance on immigration.  

Coldy, Rep. Latta (R-5) told the Toledo Blade that it is important to “enforce the laws on the books”–a clear expression of support for Trump’s deportation machine.

Finally, we heard from Senator Portman (R) on the raid this week, but what we heard was less than reassuring.  He told WOSU: “I’ve written to both the secretary of homeland security and secretary of labor to try to get the H-2B issue resolved and to be sure the legal workforce is there.” H-2(b) is a temporary work visa program that employers can use to bring in seasonal help from outside the United States.  

According to Lynn Tramonte, Director of America’s Voice Ohio, “Portman’s plan, then, is to take care of employers’ needs by bringing in new foreign workers, while allowing the deportation of hard-working immigrants currently holding these jobs.”

She added, “That is unacceptable.  We’re talking about good people with families, homes, and settled lives in the United States.  Many have lived here for decades, and tried every way possible to fix their immigration status, only to be blocked constantly by our convoluted and outdated immigration laws.  Senator Portman and other Ohio Republicans are supposed to represent workers and families in Congress, not just employers. They should challenge government actions that terrorize Ohio children and families, not simply applaud or accede to them.”

Portman did express opposition to separating families during this process.  Tramonte added, “Portman’s words about keeping families together are helpful, but the question is whether he’s actually pressing ICE and the Trump Administration to do so.  These kids need leaders who are not just going to say the right thing, but go to the mat for them.”

“I also have a few words for Rep. Gibbs and everyone else in this region who represented families impacted by the raids, and are avoiding commenting on the issue at all costs: these are your constituents,” Tramonte said.  “You were elected to represent them. There are children–American citizens–who do not know where their parents are. Your government brought 200 federal agents, K-9 dogs, machine guns, and helicopters to raid the workplace of humble farmworkers.  You have a duty to both represent all of your constituents. If you cannot or will not, you are a failed leader.”

More quotes denouncing the Ohio raids are available here.