Sam Allard / Scene
Veronica Dahlberg (in white jacket) and members of HOLA protesting at the FREE Stamp.
Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrant farm laborers in Ohio make the sign of the cross as they venture out to work, said Veronica Dahlberg, Executive Director of the Latino organization HOLA Ohio, not knowing if they’ll return to their homes and families.
Such is the reign of terror imposed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and their recent targeted assault on the Latino community across the United States.
In a demonstration at the Willard Park FREE Stamp Monday, held after a weekend of raids reminiscent of Fascist ethno-states, Dahlberg stood with dozens of representatives from the region’s Latinx communities, sounding the alarm that they had reached “the breaking point.”
“The jails are filled, here and at the southern border, with cages that are holding countless children in overcrowded, unsanitary conditions,” she said. “I don’t know why—or maybe I do know why—we have been targeted. There is an effort to destabilize whatever fragile power our community has due to our growing numbers.”
Dahlberg cited a recent article
in the Detroit Free Press, which said that Ohio was home to the third-highest rate of immigration arrests in the nation, behind Pennsylvania and Michigan. Ninety percent of those arrests are of Latinos.
“They aren’t deporting Canadians,” Dahlberg said. “They aren’t deporting immigrants from Poland or Russia.”
The rally was organized, in part, because an Akron father of four was one of those arrested during the weekend round-ups. He is likely to be deported soon, after 30 years living in the United States. He’ll leave behind a wife and his U.S.-citizen children.
His wife spoke at the rally, saying that she and her husband had lived in fear for 20 years because of bogus asylum paperwork filed by an attorney whom Dahlberg said was later imprisoned. It was on the basis of the asylum denial that the Akron man was arrested this weekend.
Dahlberg described a local community under constant surveillance, where parents are afraid to let their children play outside, where the slightest error on a piece of paperwork can result in an arrest and deportation.
Selina Pagan, president of the Young Latino Network in Cleveland, said she stood in solidarity with HOLA and all those under attack. She called on area allies of all ethnic communities to stand in support of undocumented immigrants and in defiance of ICE.
“I hope that we gather our allies in Northeast Ohio to rally around this cause and to support organizations like HOLA that are doing boots-on-the-ground work,” she said. “This does not begin and end with the undocumented community. I want to put the call out to all allies, because we are all Americans.”