By Mark Curnutte , email@example.com
Local advocates for immigrants, concerned about Trump administration policies, continue to meet and plan for possible scenarios that could unfold soon after the president-elect takes office.
The Coalition for Immigrant Dignity will hold its second meeting Sunday and hopes to hear from leaders and members of the region's immigrant communities.
"The fear is still very present in our immigrant communities because of so many things said during the campaign and since the election," said Allison Reynolds-Berry, executive director of the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center and a leader of the pro-immigrant coalition.
President-elect Donald Trump has appeared to soften on some of his anti-immigration campaign promises since the election. Yet he said during the campaign that he would build an "impenetrable wall" on the southern U.S. border, deport millions of undocumented immigrants, "terminate" President Barack Obama's executive orders protecting young immigrants brought illegally into the country by their parents and "suspend immigration from regions that export terrorism."
About 50 people, those representing organizations and others concerned individuals, attended an informational meeting in December. The pro-immigrant coalition hopes to bring some formality to its organization Sunday. The Cincinnati Interfaith Workers Center, Amos Project and multiple faith communities are involved.
Some overlap exists between the Immigrant Dignity group and another new group, Cincinnati Sanctuary Congregation Coalition, which is exploring ways to protect undocumented immigrants, Muslims, African-Americans and members of other groups that advocates say could be targeted by the Trump administration.
More than 150 people participated in a sanctuary information session Dec. 18 at the Clifton Mosque.
Still, despite concern and fear, other immigrant advocates want to avoid immediate default to sanctuary.
"The Cincinnati Interfaith Workers Center rejects sanctuary as the starting point for the Coalition for Immigrant Dignity," said Brennan Grayson, center director. "We need to start with the people, employees and employers. We should not borrow from another place and time."
Whether it employs sanctuary and shelters people in houses of worship, the Coalition for Immigrant Dignity wants to help immigrants prepare for possible actions by the Trump administration that are most likely to affect young immigrants from Mexico and Central American nations. In June 2012, Obama created by executive order Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which protected young undocumented immigrants from deportation and allowed them to obtain work permits and driver's licenses.
Ohio has an estimated 7,000 student DACA recipients, said Reynolds-Berry.
Increased deportations could split immigrant families, in which some of the children might be U.S.-born citizens and the parents undocumented. Coalition members are concerned that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the federal immigration police agency, could begin widespread raids on immigrant communities and workplaces where immigrants are employed.
In December, the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles sent letters to several hundred immigrants, warning that they will lose their commercial driver's license if they fail to prove they are citizens or permanent residents, the Associated Press reports.
The Sunday meeting will be at 3 p.m. at Peoples Church, 220 William Howard Taft Road, Corryville.
Grayson, the Interfaith Workers Center director, said the coalition needs to try to work to educate the public that attempts at widespread deportations would be costly and harm families and the U.S. economy. A report released in February by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a nonprofit, non-partisan research organization, calculated that the 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States pay $11.64 billion a year in income, sales and property taxes. In Ohio, undocumented immigrant workers pay $85 million in state and local taxes, and in Kentucky the amount is $37 million, according to the analysis.
Conservative immigration groups continue to pressure the Trump administration to create a top White House post for Kris Kobach. The Kansas secretary of state has a national reputation as an anti-illegal immigration proponent whose appointment could ensure that Trump keeps many of his campaign promises to limit immigration.