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Immigration 101: Understanding Trump's Plan for Interior Enforcement

Tuesday evening, June 13th, we went to a program put on by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) entitled "Immigration 101: Understanding Trump's Plan for Interior Enforcement" at its office on Chester Avenue just a few blocks away from "Margaret W. Wong & Associates." 

The program was conducted by Dr. Austin Kocher of OSU and President of the "Central Ohio Worker Center" whose mission is to "support, advocate for, empower, and organize people in Central Ohio to address problems of poverty, workplace rights and equity, racial inequality, gender discrimination, immigration justice and economic issues."

Dr. Kocher has spent a lot of time in the field doing hands-on work on these matters which, in our mind, greatly qualified him to give this presentation.

All in all, perhaps 70 people attended this meeting including quite a few people from Painesville, a city whose policies pertaining to cooperation with ICE are being vigorously debated at this time.

The meeting was presided over by Ms. Katrice Williams, ACLU Policy Associate and we were addressed for a moment by Ms. Elizabeth Bonham, ACLU Staff Attorney, who urged us to actively oppose a bill being debated in the Ohio legislature at this time which would prevent the undocumented from receiving workman's compensation if they were injured on the job.   

At the start of his presentation, Dr. Kocher said that in order to become effective citizen activists we must understand how the immigration system works.

From there he went on to talk about the "Immigration and Nationality Act" which sets the legal framework for all immigration matters in the United States and was termed "a byzantine network of substantive and procedural rules of law" by Dr. Stephen H. Legomsky, former Chief Counsel of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. 

Dr. Kocher went on to give an overview of who exactly qualifies as being "undocumented", "illegal", and "deportable". He then reviewed the roles of the U.S. President, Dept. of State, and Dept. of Homeland Security in immigration matters. For instance, the Dept. of State is responsible for refugee resettlement and the Dept. of Homeland Security is responsible for Customs and Border Protection, etc.

Perhaps most importantly, he discussed the "Legal Framework for Interior Enforcement" by way of which specific departments/agencies at the federal, state, and local level are involved in the acts of arrest, removal proceedings, outcomes, and perhaps deportation of the undocumented.

In terms of the Trump administration, Dr. Kocher used as a springboard the publicized case of Ms. Maribel Trujillo-Diaz, an undocumented person who came to the U.S. from Mexico in 2002 where she married and had a family. In August, 2007 she received an NTA and was finally deported in April, 2017 although her law enforcement record was quite clean. But, as an ICE officer was quoted as saying, "I don't know if you are aware, but we have a new president. Things are different now." 

As we all know, President Trump has issued several Executive Orders pertaining to the Border, Interior, and Muslims so Dr. Kocher believed that it would be good if we read them all and cautioned us that President Trump has the capacity to be an influence at all stages of the immigration process in terms of reducing opportunities for us to be in the physical presence of the undocumented immigrants we are trying to assist, making it harder for sanctuary cities by way of restricting federal funds, and impacting the hiring of judges to name only three areas.

In terms of what we can do as advocates for the undocumented and for constructive immigration reform, a few things that were discussed included upholding places like Columbus for its passage of its Safe Haven Ordinance, forming rapid response teams to help those facing deportation, providing more resources to those whose cases are being considered by immigration courts, and volunteering to help at detention centers particularly those who speak Spanish. 

  

By:

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

Kwasi Bediako