With just days left before Lara’s scheduled deportation, his young son is turning to the community and government to help keep the family together.
“Immigration is trying to take my father, Jesus Lara, away from me and my family,” 14-year-old Eric Lara said on an online petition site MoveOn Petitions.
“I am a U.S. citizen, and I don't know why Donald Trump is trying to take my dad. He is a great dad, he adopted me and he's always been there for me, helping with my homework and making sure my brothers and sisters and I have what we need. I don’t know what my future would be like without my dad.”
Young Lara then goes on to plead for help from the government, particularly U.S. Rep Bob Gibbs, a Republican who represents the 7th Congressional District, which includes Willard.
“Please, Rep. Gibbs, do everything you can so my father can stay with us,” Lara said.
The Reflector reached out to Gibbs’ office four times before receiving a response.
“We cannot comment on any pending casework our office may or may not be working on,” said Dallas Gerber, Gibbs’ communications director,
Today, neighbors and allies are gathering for a local canvas at the farmers market to collect more signatures.
Lynn Tramonte, director of Ohio’s Voice and a family friend, could not be reached for further comment on the event.
Ohio’s Voice was able to get a comment from one official; John Sandweg, former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and former Acting General Counsel of the Department of Homeland Security
“Cases like this are an incredible waste of ICE resources that only make it harder for the agency to identify and remove dangerous criminals,” Sandweg said regarding the pending deportation of Jesus.
“Our limited enforcement resources should be focused first on finding criminals and public safety threats, not arresting and deporting non-criminals, like Jesus Lara Lopez, who has lived here for years, dutifully paid his taxes and is the primary caregiver to four U.S. citizen children. The administration’s focus on the low-hanging fruit of the enforcement system only allows the bad guys to remain at large, weakening our public safety.”
Lara is a longtime Ohio resident, having lived here for 16 years, during which time he has become the father of four children who are U.S. citizens, according to the MoveOn page and Lara himself, who spoke at a previous town hall meeting in Willard. He is an “aspiring American.”
Earlier this year, Lara was told by immigration enforcement authorities that on July 18 he would be deported back to Mexico due to a traffic infraction from 2008.
Tramonte earlier said the deportation will affect more than Jesus. She said if he is deported, his wife will likely have to go with him. The young children would face the same issues in Mexico, though, that their parents are facing in the U.S.
“His children would go with him, but they will be sent back from Mexico because they (would be) there on a tourist visa,” she said. “They won’t be allowed to stay in Mexico; they will be sent back here on their own.”
If the community and elected officials such as Gibbs fail to intervene, Lara will be deported in a few days.
“Jesus is a loving father, taxpayer, homeowner, and valued member of the Willard, Ohio community,” the petition site said. “He is active in his church, and is known as a kind and helpful neighbor. He and his four U.S. citizen children recently traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with congressional offices and build support for his case.
“Congressman Bob Gibbs represents the Lara family in Washington, D.C., and his office is looking into the case — but there's so much more he can do. If we want to stop Jesus' deportation, then we need leaders like Congressman Gibbs to use their power to help the Lara family and get ICE to stop this deportation.”
Eric Lara urged all to sign his petition to encourage Gibbs “to be a real champion for Jesus and allow him to stay with his family.”
The page says there are currently 34,142 signatures to support stopping Jesus Lara’s deportation, with a goal of 40,000.