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'This is actually a form of racism'

Zoe Greszler • Jul 18, 2017 at 5:20 PM

WILLARD — Despite months of effort and the support of many, Jesus Lara Lopez was deported early Tuesday morning, leaving behind his wife and four U.S. citizen children in Willard.  

After a petition started by his son with tens of thousands of signatures, several meetings with the press and failed attempts to garner support from the country’s officials, there was no final Hail Mary that Lara, his family and friends had hoped for.

Lara’s attorney David Leopold said Monday that officials such as those in the Trump administration, ICE director Rebecca Adducci and others “have the power to do the right thing up until the last second.” When that didn’t come, Leopold instead stood by Lara at the airport for his last hours in America, telling media how disappointed he was in the lack of action.

“Standing here this morning, I’m dumbfounded, watching these children cry,” he said as Lara’s weeping children clung to their father beside him.

“And my question goes out, how is this making us any safer? How is this making America a better place? These are the darkest times I think I’ve ever seen as an attorney. I think it is important for people to understand the law is so broken.”

Leopold wasn’t shy about pointing fingers during his interview.

“I also want to say that it’s Donald Trump; it’s John Kelly; it’s Rebecca Adducci and it is ICE that is doing this this morning,” he said. “They can stop this deportation. They have the power. ... It’s all just a (bad) excuse. This is just wrong.”

Lara, holding back tears himself, stroked his sons’ hair and comforted them in a low voice. Because of Mexican immigration laws, they cannot follow him to Mexico. His U.S. citizen children, ages 6, 10, 11 and 13 had to stay behind with their mother. 

With the translation help of family friend and advocate Lynn Tramonte, director of Ohio Voice, Lara gave only a few final words. 

“I can’t believe this is happening,” he said. “The government is breaking up families. (I think) this is actually a form of racism, what’s happening.”

When asked by a Spanish-speaking reporter whether his children will have to be cared for by the government Lara said “they’re American citizens. They have rights to be here.”

Tramonte was quoted Monday as saying in the event of Lara’s deportation, she will work with the family to set up a GoFundMe account to help support the family that will be struggling to make ends meet.

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