Additional press comments and emotional pleas were made by
Lorain Police Chief Cel Rivera, José Mendiola (president
of LOIRA, Lorain Ohio Immigrant Rights Association), Sister
Cathy McConnell, HM (Sacred Heart Chapel), Janet Garrett
(candidate for Ohio’s 4th Congressional District),
Lorain County Commissioner Matt Lundy, and Lorain
Councilman Angel Arróyo.
Councilman Arróyo termed the seizures and separations of
families “unjust” and “immoral.”
Lorain Police Chief Rivera reviewed a partial history of the immigration policies in the
United States after President Ronald Reagan granted amnesty to
over 3 million undocumented immigrants in 1986 and noted that
immigration laws were not enforced until after Sept. 11, 2001.
But jobs that nobody else wanted attracted migrants who had
difficulty obtaining work in their counties of origin because of
the creation of NAFTA.
FLOC, ABLE, and other immigrant rights groups and individuals
sued the U.S. Border Patrol’s Sandusky post in federal court in
Toledo several years ago, alleging racial profiling of
migrant farmworkers in small rural communities across northern
Ohio. A federal judge last year found no wrongdoing on the part
of federal agents in that case.
“We still see concerns of ethnic profiling affecting our
immigrant communities,” said Eugenio Mollo, ABLE managing
attorney, who spoke at Toledo’s press conference. “We have
recently filed additional lawsuits against officers of the Ohio
Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio State Highway
Patrol. Those cases remain pending. We want to hear more of
those stories and we encourage people who think they have been
ethnically profiled to call our office and we’ll do our best to
investigate the concerns.”
ABLE has set up a “hotline” at 419.871.8113.
Longer term, FLOC and ABLE plan to conduct “know your rights”
presentations to the “survivor families” of those detained, as
well as other migrant farmworkers who may still be living in
Ohio. FLOC intends to address what its leader called “exploitation”
and “abuses in the workplace” that are “endemic to the
agricultural industry” in Ohio and elsewhere.
“People who are oppressed need to organize to find a collective
resistance, a collective way to respond to the attacks on their
humanity,” said FLOC’s Velásquez. “We’ve known about abuses in
that area for some time, so an incident like this was long in
the making. I think the way it was conducted was a publicity
stunt and pandering to instruments in our country. The problems
go deeper than the current crisis we’re facing right now.”
While the names of those detained and any charges they face have
not been released, an ICE spokesman has termed the investigation
as one centered around possible tax evasion and identity theft.
The investigation began with the arrest of a “document broker”
last fall, according to ICE. Some of those arrested may have
used fake documents and the Social Security numbers of dead
people to gain employment.
“None of those people who worked in that greenhouse were MS 13,
nor were they criminals,” said FLOC’s Velásquez. “They were
hard-working people doing jobs other Americans don’t want to do.
Those are the people we hire in this country to do those jobs
that make our flourishing economy. You talk to any farmer in
Ohio or anywhere in the country and they’re saying they need
these workers to come to the rural areas to do these
back-breaking jobs that other Americans cannot and will not do.”
Corso’s Flower and Garden Center
issued a statement on its company website Wednesday, stating the
family-owned business “prides itself on being a good corporate
citizen,” which “does right by the law.” The company stated it
“ensures that all employer taxes are properly paid.”
“Corso’s strives to comply with U.S. employment laws and
therefore asks its employees and prospective employees for
honest and legitimate identification and documentation,” the
statement read. “If mistakes were made or if anyone used false,
fraudulent, or otherwise disingenuous identification documents
or other documents to secure employment at Corso’s, the company
was not aware of those things.”
The landscaping and wholesale plant dealer reopened its
operations the day after the raid.
The Erie County raid also drew the ire of some of Ohio’s
congressional delegation, particularly Democrats. Many took
shots at Donald Trump’s new policy of cracking down on
employers who hire undocumented immigrants, after publicly
stating immigration enforcement efforts would focus on violent
criminals and gang members. But the U.S. Attorney’s Office
for Northern Ohio recently announced it would hire
additional staff focused on increasing immigration enforcement.
The ACLU, in a statement released Friday, pointed out the
DOJ [Dept. of Justice] disbanded its civil rights
department last year under AG Jeff Sessions.
REP. KAPTUR AND SEN. BROWN
US Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-9th District), whose district
covers northern Ohio from Toledo to western Cleveland suburbs,
issued a statement encouraging “transparency from ICE officials
as this process unfolds.”
“In this tense environment created by an administration intent
on dividing us, we want to make sure everything about this
action is above board and that individuals are being treated
with dignity and respect,” said Rep. Kaptur. “I know many
Ohioans are upset and alarmed by these actions by the government
and I share their concern.”
US Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio)
was blunter, calling the raids and separation of families
“immoral” and “dead wrong” in a conference call with reporters.
“My first concern is the children who were separated from their
families during the raid,” he said. “We’re seeing too many cases
of children separated from families, small children. ICE agents
don’t know where some of the children are.”
Both Rep. Kaptur and Sen. Brown stated their
offices are in contact with federal immigration authorities,
trying to work through situations on behalf of the families
affected by the ICE raid.
Sen. Brown, who is running for re-election this November,
renewed a call for a “bi-partisan solution” to the country’s
“This is not what we as a country stand for,” said Sen. Brown.
“We will be fighting on this.”
The ACLU of Ohio on Friday sent letters to Ohio’s
congressional delegation, urging immediate action to prevent the
expedited deportations of the farmworkers detailed in Tuesday’s
“We urge Ohio senators and representatives to take immediate
action and ensure that no one is deported without access to an
attorney and full due process in an immigration court,”
said ACLU of Ohio Senior Policy Director Mike Brickner.
“We have an opportunity to right this horrible wrong, but we
must take immediate action. The events on June 5 are not
irreparable, and we have the opportunity to alleviate the
tremendous suffering of our Ohio neighbors, by ensuring full
due process under the law.”
The ACLU warned those expedited deportations “could
happen in a matter of days.” The civil rights group stated there
has been a trend to “fast-track” and “group-track” such
“The federal government inserted itself into a small Ohio
community instilling fear, panic, and chaos that will have long
lasting effects on our immigrant neighbors, family members, and
friends. We must not let this happen unchallenged and urge our
elected officials to stand up to ICE and stop the expedited
deportation of Ohio residents,” said Brickner.
Many of the children are citizens of the United States of
Rico de La Prensa contributed to this report.