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Ohio's Immigrant Communities Spent Weekend In Fear Of Deportation

Immigration arrest at a garden center in Ohio.
John Minchillo
Associated Press
Immigration arrest at a garden center in Ohio.

Ohio’s immigrant communities were on edge this weekend as the Trump administration planned to conduct mass roundups of undocumented families. ICE promised sweeps in 10 areas of the country Sunday, and though the closest city targeted was Chicago, residents of Northeast Ohio fear their time is coming.

One person facing deportation is a 19-year-old woman who was brought by her mother from Honduras six years ago, after being sexually abused, stabbed and threatened by gangs. Since arriving in Ohio, the woman, who we’ve agreed not to identify, graduated from high school and been accepted into college.

“I want to continue studying ‘cause I want to be someone in life,” she says. “And I can’t be anything in my country. But here, I know I can be someone.”

The woman has a 3-week-old son and fears deportation to a country she hasn’t seen since she was 13. But she’s received a “final removal order” because of a missed immigration hearing shortly after she and her mother arrived in the U.S.

Now she fears she and her son will be forced to return to that world.

“I don’t want my baby to grow up there,” she says. “I don’t want my baby to go over there and live the environment I lived.”

She’s petitioning to have her case reopened.

Though Sunday's raids largely failed to materialize, immigration activists still encouraged communities to prepare for whatever may happen.

“Today I know people were out just stocking up on groceries,” says Veronica Dahlberg, founder of HOLA Ohio. “They’re trying to lay low this weekend. I know it’s kind of like when there’s a storm coming people go to the grocery stores and stock up. That’s kind of what’s happening today in the Latina community, but it’s a storm of hate.”

Dahlberg said every Latina/o person, regardless of immigration status, should have documents and information ready to present when going outside of their houses. She also said they are not required to open their doors unless they’re presented a warrant signed by a judge.

Ohio has four detention facilities holding immigrants, including a private prison in Youngstown and the Geauga County jail.

Nathan joined WKSU as an intern in May 2019. Nathan is a broadcast journalism student at Kent State. He’s previously been a correspondent for TV2 as well as a crew member of Teleproductions. His interests include entertainment and culture.