ELYRIA — Lorain city leaders made a passionate plea to Lorain County commissioners Wednesday to oppose the rescinding of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Lorain City Council President Joel Arredondo and Joe Mendiola, president of the Lorain Immigration Rights Association, said the Latino population is feeling the effects of President Donald Trump’s plan to eliminate DACA.
The commissioners followed Oberlin’s lead in adopting a resolution in support of the 800,000 people, the “Dreamers” who were brought to the United States as children with no sure path to citizenship.
Mendiola said he’s been in touch with students who are Dreamers but didn’t want to take them out of school to attend the commissioners’ meeting.
“As we started this meeting here, we pledged allegiance to the flag,” Mendiola said. “As a prior military man, I’m very proud to do that, and as a citizen of this country, I’m very proud to do that.
“These children in the school system today, and every day since they were brought here from Mexico at a very young age, they pledged allegiance to the flag also. In every way they are American, but they don’t have the papers to prove it.”
Commissioner Matt Lundy called the repeal of DACA “cruel, inhumane and un-American.”
“This is not the America that we know,” Lundy said.
Sacred Heart Chapel has provided a place for undocumented immigrants to meet, Mendiola said, but he doesn’t want the population to feel scared.
“It drives them back into the shadows of our society because now (federal) immigration has their address, where they live, where they go to school, where they work, so they’re very, very vulnerable,” Mendiola said. “This is not why I spent my time in the military.”
Lorain is home to the largest population of Latinos in Lorain County, and Arredondo said they have made many contributions.
“It’s a proven fact that immigrants will take more risks than people here in the United States,” Arredondo said. “Frankly speaking, they come from nothing so have nothing to lose.”
The resolution adopted by commissioners also calls on Congress to create a plan for Dreamers to have a path to full citizenship.
“It’s a shame that this administration has done this, but if we pull for the Dreamers and Congress (to pass a bill) that would give them a status where they could feel safe again that would be the ultimate goal,” Mendiola said.
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