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Concerned Citizens Meeting at Trinity Baptist Church

On Thursday evening, March 9th, we went to Trinity Baptist Church on Johnnycake Road in Mentor to attend a meeting of concerned citizens organized by HOLA (Hispanas Organizadas de Lake y Ashtabula/Organization of Hispanic Women of Lake and Ashtabula) to review what has been happening lately regarding the more aggressive actions of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in terms of apprehending the undocumented.

Ms. Veronica Dahlberg, HOLA's Executive Director, and Ms. Elizabeth Ford, an immigration attorney closely aligned with HOLA, talked about how under the Obama administration a policy was set forth in which most undocumented people who obeyed our laws and lived quietly would not be a priority for ICE to pursue but now, under the Trump administration, ICE is taking a harder line and all undocumented people; even if they are working hard, obeying our laws, and raising a family; are prime candidates for deportation.

Ms. Dahlberg introduced several people who were undocumented and asked them to share with us their stories, and all of us were quite moved by them. She then asked for audience feedback so we got to listen to several people talk about their own experiences including a tax preparation person who shot down the myth that the undocumented do not pay taxes and local activists who presented their findings that convincingly demonstrated how undocumented people and their families are an economic asset to communities and businesses.

To be sure, another topic that was discussed was our arcane immigration system that makes it very difficult and expensive for foreign-born peopleto obtain the documentation to live legally in the United States. Along these lines, Ms. Katrice Williams from the ACLU (who spoke recently at the Westlake Democratic Club) was present and recounted what she, herself, had witnessed pertaining to the acquisition of a fiancé visa.

Overall, Ms. Dahlberg wanted to impart (and we think she successfully did so) that the new federal policies, or at least the ones created for now by Executive Orders, are breaking up families and creating great trauma for parents and children. Ms. Dahlberg very aptly surmised that the monies spent doing this would be so much better spent if they were directed towards the apprehension and conviction of hardened criminals who do genuine violence and harm onto others.

We took a friend of ours to this meeting who was eager to learn more about this subject and afterwards, she described the evening as an "eye opener."


Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC