CINCINNATI - Stories of children being forcibly separated from their parents are adding fuel to the fire for advocacy groups in Ohio already fighting for the rights of immigrants.
After widespread outrage over separations along the southern U.S. border, GOP leaders vowed to end the practice. And last week President Donald Trump signed an executive order to end separations.
The Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center in Cincinnati is among the organizations in Ohio working to help elevate the voices of immigrant communities. And program manager Samantha Searls said a solution is not that easy, since there are policies that separate families even here in Ohio.
"A lot of people may not realize that family separation has been happening for months if not years now through ICE activity, and it's recently been increasing," Searls said. "So regardless of what's happening on the border, there are still families being separated by our immigration system."
IJPC will host an event Monday night to discuss current policies and educate community members on how they can advocate for immigrants. Saturday is a National Day of Action Against Family Separation, and rallies will be held in cities across the country to coincide with a mass mobilization in Washington.
In early June, more than 100 people were arrested by immigration agents at a garden and landscaping company in northwestern Ohio. And Searls noted, just last week 146 people were detained in an ICE raid of a meatpacking operation in Massillon.
"These kind of surprise operations are very detrimental to the community," she said. "A lot of these people have families and are trying to provide for their communities. And being taken away so quickly is a shock to the whole system."
Searls said immigrant-led organizations are collecting supplies and donations to help these families, and advocacy groups are working with local officials to ensure fair treatment of those detained.
Reporting by Ohio News Connection in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded in part by the George Gund Foundation.