Video: Immigration was hot topic at white house hispanic action summit
February 27, 2012 · Print This Article
Elyria – February 18 at Lorain County Community College (LCCC) in Elyria was by all accounts a special occasion in which White House officials came to Ohio on their multi – city White House Hispanic Action Summit tour. The discussion groups created by participants ranged from education to how to increase voter turnout, but by far the most pressing issue that day, as it has been around the country from Orlando to San Antonio, has been immigration.
The immigration discussion was allocated the largest space at LCCC, it also hard the largest numbers and the most vocal participants. In the end, information was shared, opinions were changed, and a better understanding of the situation became clear.
When the country discusses of immigration, most immediately turn to the Southwestern states such as Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico, but because of its closeness to Canada and its ever increasing migrant workers, Ohio has seen an increase in undocumented immigrants, not only those from Latino descent, but European as well.
Immigration advocates say many of those who are in Ohio illegally came one of two ways, either they arrived on a work VISA and overstayed the expiration date, or came into the country at a young age without knowledge of the illegal activity.
The plight of illegal immigration and the concerns it causes on both government and people are on display in Painesville, which has increasingly become an area of concern for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials. Over the past decade or so, this area has become home to migrant workers that came on a work VISA but did not return to their home country once the VISA expired.
The latest U.S. Census says 4,298 Hispanics live in Painesville, but in 1990, there were just 389. Twenty-two percent of the city’s 19,563 residents identify themselves as Hispanic or Latino and more than half claim Mexican descent.
When participants at the summit mentioned these concerns to the White House, Julie Chavez Rodriguez, associate director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, said policies may be adjusted based on the summit results and future immigration policies may be dictated from the summit as well, but those in attendance wondered what they can do to improve the situation.
“You need to partner and collaborate,” said Rodriquez. ““We need the business leaders, the community leaders and the churches to stand up”
Rodriquez also said it’s important to strategize and come together and put a “face to immigration.” She also said Congress must pass comprehensive immigration reform to make change. Most recently the DREAM Act was passed in the U.S. House, but failed in the Senate. The DREAM Act is a piece of legislation designed to give path to citizenship to those who either attend higher education and graduate, or join the military. Ohio U.S. 10th Congressional District Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D – Cleveland), attended the summit. He voted for the DREAM Act and could not understand why anyone would vote against it.
“There’ are countless young people who are adversely affected,” said Kucinich. ““We have to make sure that we pursue a path that upholds all of us,”
U.S. Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D – Toledo) was one of the House members who voted “no” on the DREAM Act. She shared the same concerns as other representatives did who voted no. One of the provisions in the legislation made it mandatory for all those who signed up for the DRAEM to disclose their parents legal status, during the candidates’ night in Lorain Feb. 22, the 9th Congressional distinct representative said the DREAM Act as written, is the wrong way to pass immigration reform.
According to the 2010 Census, Lorain and Cuyahoga counties lost population over the past decade, but the Hispanic population grew in both counties. Some feel this may hurt the overall economy; cities with high Hispanic populations may become “sanctuary cities” – a city that does not enforce immigration laws – and put a burden on taxpayers to provide bilingual services. Also illegal immigrants may have children or “anchor babies”, which provides a sentimental reason for them to stay in the states while at the same time burdening the already deficit run government heath care system.
Those who do live in Ohio without proper documentation say they fear deportation if they go to a doctor or hospital when ill, there is fear to call police if a crime is seen or if they are a victim of a crime. Those who have children born in the U.S. fear the possibility of being deported and having to make a decision to leave their legal children in the states or take the child back to their native country. In some cases, even those who marry a U.S. citizen can face deportation. .
In Congress, there are two immiigration plans of attack, one is the attempt to pass the DREAM Act and another is to concentrate more on comprehensive immigration reform.