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Program focuses on immigration, deportation

Cary Ashby • Sep 8, 2017 at 7:00 PM

Minerva Dominguez’s family has been impacted by deportation. 

“It happened to me when I was a child and I can’t believe it’s still happening now,” she said.

The Norwalk resident was born in Texas and her parents were undocumented immigrants. Her parents were deported to Mexico, but eventually were able to return to the United States.

Dominguez’s daughter is married to an undocumented immigrant who has been deported. He was detained in Cleveland some time after being stopped at a Sandusky gas station.

“(My daughter) wasn’t even able to say bye to him,” Dominguez said. “We couldn’t find him for a week. … Finally, seven days later he got ahold of us.”

Watching her daughter go through that situation she said was heartbreaking, especially since she couldn’t do anything to help her.

About 20 people attended the Lunch and Learn program Friday at Casa Fiesta. The Huron County Democratic party hosted the informational event.

David Lima, a member of the Friends of HOLA, spoke about his knowledge of immigration and deportation issues. The Mentor man encourages people to speak to their senators and write letters to the editor or opinion pieces for the newspaper. HOLA describes itself as “a grassroots Latino organization based in northeast Ohio” that focuses on Latino outreach, advocacy and community organizing.

Seventeen members of HOLA have formed a “court watch group” and Lima said they attend hearings for undocumented immigrants who were the subject of traffic stops. He said group members are concerned that ICE will take someone into custody before or after a hearing and immigration officials are more reluctant to do so if HOLA is present in court.

Lima said there is no requirement for police to inquiry about someone’s immigration or citizenship status. 

“We don’t have to carry papers certifying we are citizens,” he added. “If sheriff’s offices and police departments (didn’t ask), it would solve a lot of problems.”

Lima said the Lorain Police Department has a “don’t ask” policy “even if the someone’s driving without a license.” He encourages residents to speak to sheriff’s offices and police departments to invoke a similar rule.

“It is the primary responsibility of the federal government to enforce immigration law. Accordingly, the Lorain Police Department shall not undertake immigration-related investigations and shall not routinely inquire into the specific immigration status of any person encountered during normal police operations,” according to the three-page summary of the agency’s immigration policy. 

During traffic stops, Hispanics often admit their citizenship status when they see someone with a badge and gun, Lima said, “which they don’t have to do.”

A person must give an officer his or her name, date of birth and address and other than that, Lima said otherwise it’s OK to “invoke your right to silence.” He added people should ask one more question — if they are being detained — and if the officer tells them no, under Ohio law, the person can drive away.

Once an officer knows a person is informed about his or her right to keep silent, Lima said they usually back off because they know they could violate someone’s Fourth Amendment rights.

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