The New York Times highlights the story of Jesus Lara, an undocumented dad of four U.S. citizens who stands to get ripped away from his family and the small Ohio town he’s called home for nearly two decades.
Because farming towns like Willard depend heavily on immigrant labor—“we pray and hope the workers show up,” said one local—Donald Trump’s mass deportation dragnet could devastate communities and local economies by casting out immigrants like Lara, who want nothing more than to work hard so they can see their kids succeed.
The dad had been checking in regularly with ICE since getting arrested in 2011, and had even been given a work permit so he could support his family:
In 2008, Mr. Lara was pulled over on his way to the dentist. Unable to produce a driver’s license, which is not issued to undocumented residents in Ohio, he was jailed. A sheriff’s deputy contacted Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Deportation proceedings followed, culminating in a removal order in 2011.
The government granted Mr. Lara a deportation reprieve because he was otherwise law-abiding, and he was placed under an order of supervision with a work permit, requiring that he check in with ICE annually and renew it.
Then came his check-in under the Trump administration:
In January, after the Trump administration announced that no one in the country illegally was exempt from deportation, immigrants like Mr. Lara became vulnerable.
On March 28, when he arrived for his check-in with ICE in Cleveland, officials tethered an electronic tracking monitor to his ankle over objections from his lawyer, who argued that he was no flight risk.
When Mr. Lara raised his trousers to reveal the black, clunky device — he charges it every 12 hours — Elsiy blurted out: “That’s a thing the police put. My Daddy isn’t a criminal!”
Now Lara stands to get ripped away from his family for driving without a license, something the state won’t allow him to apply for in the first place.
Trump and Homeland Security Sec. John Kelly like to blow smoke in our faces by claiming they are targeting only dangerous criminals and “bad hombres” for arrest and deportation, but even ICE’s acting director admitted the other week that all undocumented immigrants “need to be worried,” even if they have no criminal record. Immigrants like Lara:
“If you’re in this country illegally and you committed a crime by entering this country, you should be uncomfortable,” Acting Director Thomas Homan told the House Appropriations Committee’s Homeland Security Subcommittee. “You should look over your shoulder, and you need to be worried.”
“It’s difficult to imagine any good that will come out of deporting Jesus Lara Lopez,” said his attorney David Leopold.
“He is a doting father who works hard to provide a safe and loving home for his four children. ICE has the legal authority to do the right thing and permit Jesus to remain at home with his family, and the community that values him, in Willard. Deporting Jesus Lara Lopez is wrong.”
The authorities ordered Mr. Lara to report to the ICE office in Cleveland on May 19 with an airline ticket back to Mexico, which he bought at his own expense. On June 5, the agency denied a request by his lawyer that it reconsider removing him. The request included references from an employer, his neighbors and his children’s teachers.
Mr. Lara’s flight is scheduled for July 18.
For the moment, he continues to work the graveyard shift packing Milano cookies and Goldfish crackers at the Pepperidge Farm plant. He also picks up other part-time work.
“I don’t get any help from the government,” he said.
Their next-door neighbor, Jennifer Fidler, called Mr. Lara a role model. “All I ever see him do is work, take care of his children and go to church,” she said. “Why would you get rid of a good person?”
According to immigrant rights group America’s Voice, Lara and his family recently traveled to D.C. in order to meet with congressional leaders and build support for his case. Advocates are asking all to call Ohio Congressman Bob Gibbs at (202) 225-6265 to ask him to intervene in Lara’s case. Your calls work, and they could make all the difference for the Lara family. You can also sign a petition in his support here.