By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Two months ago, Beatriz Maya sat in U.S. Rep. Bob Latta’s office waiting for answers on where the congressman stands on deporting “dreamers.” She is still waiting.
Maya, executive director of La Conexion, was back in Latta’s Bowling Green office on Monday, this time asking to show the congressman the economic and human side of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.) She and eight others delivered a letter encouraging Latta to talk to local employers who can’t find enough workers to fill jobs, and to families who are at risk of being torn apart.
“If he hears their personal stories, we are confident that he will get a different story than what he is hearing in Washington,” she said.
Maya wants Latta to meet the local young man who grew up in Wood County, learned carpentry at Penta Career Center, and now works for Rudolph-Libbe. He has no criminal record, yet he is at risk of being deported.
“There is nothing you can find in him that would warrant deportation,” she said.
Earlier this fall, President Donald Trump announced he would end the DACA program in six months if Congress doesn’t find a more permanent solution.
Since it was enacted under President Barack Obama, about 800,000 immigrants who were children when they arrived in the U.S. illegally have received protections from the program. DACA allows young people brought to this country illegally by their parents to get a temporary reprieve from deportation and to receive permission to work, study and obtain driver’s licenses. Many of the “dreamers” have been here since they were babies, and America is the only country they know. Those signing up for DACA must show that they have clean criminal records. Their status is renewable every two years.
Bowling Green’s city administration has voiced its support of DACA, and has proclaimed the city as a welcoming place for immigrants.
But when asked about his stance in September, the local citizens were told that Latta was waiting to make a decision until Speaker Paul Ryan’s task force had studied the issue. When the question was repeated on Monday, Latta’s aide Tim Bosserman said he had not discussed it with the congressman.
“But nothing has happened. We are running out of time. We have thousands of dreamers waiting for a solution,” Maya said.
Maya fears that Congress will do nothing. “So they are basically waiting for the time to pass, so it expires.”
Maya offered to help acquaint Latta with the local effect of DACA, so he doesn’t have to wait on the congressional task force.
“We can facilitate that if he’s willing to do that,” she said. “We cannot tolerate this inaction. He’s our representative.”
Yvette Llanas, a lifelong Bowling Green resident, agreed that Latta needs to be responsive to his constituents.
“He should have some interaction with us,” Llanas said.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich has publicly said he doesn’t want the U.S. to deport DACA residents. “But we’re not getting any help from this office,” Llanas told Latta’s aide. The congressman has not even issued a statement about his stand on the issue, she added.
Llanas has a personal interest in the future of “dreamers.” Her son is married to an undocumented woman who was brought to the U.S. when she was just 1 year old.
“She and my son have children,” Llanas said. Her daughter-in-law owns the couple’s company, pays taxes and provides a service to the community. “Yet she is being told she will have to leave.”
“This is the only home she knows,” Llanas said. “We can’t just sit still and let his happen.”
Linda Lander addressed the inhumane effect of deporting “dreamers.”
The Republican party has long professed to be the “party of families,” yet families are being torn apart. “It doesn’t seem like that’s a humane thing,” Lander said.
“Which side of history is Bob Latta going to be on,” she asked. “It’s an economic issue. It’s a moral issue.”
Anesa Miller said the U.S. government keeps changing the rules for “dreamers.” Many of them had to come up with money to renew their DACA status to meet an early deadline.
“People try to do that in order to stay here,” Miller said. They try to jump through high hoops, “then they moved the hoop. That’s very un-American.”
Frances Brent said Northwest Ohio has a long history of migrant labor. “Wood County made real efforts to serve the migrant workers,” she said.
She suggested the nation as a whole needs to do the same. “Sometimes we need to live up to our reputation of compassion.”
Bosserman said he would share information from those who visited the congressional office with Latta. Maya again offered to set up opportunities for Latta to meet with businesses and families who would be harmed by the deportation of “dreamers.”