Speaking through an Arabic interpreter, the young woman said she came from Libya a month ago on a visitation visa that is good through August. Then, President Donald Trump issued a temporary ban on anyone coming to the U.S. from the country.
Libya is in civil war. Libyan news reports say her hometown, Tripoli, was a battlefield Wednesday to militias battling with tanks and heavy mortar.
“There is no way for me to go back,” she said. “When my visa runs out and still the situation in Libya is the same or worse, what options do I have?”
“What can I do so I don’t get arrested or deported?”
It was one of several questions asked of immigration attorneys and agencies at a forum Wednesday night at Sinclair Community College on local impacts of Trump’s immigration-related executive orders. The event, organized by Welcome Dayton, was attended by roughly 100 people.
The immigration attorneys told the Libyan woman to contact an immigration attorney.
Several people asked how Dayton police will comply with an executive order targeting sanctuary cities and threatening cities with a loss of federal funding if they don’t cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
City Commissioner Matt Joseph said that while the city rescinded a policy prohibiting officers from contacting ICE without a supervisor’s approval, it still has a policy prohibiting officers from asking about a victim’s or witness’ immigration status.
If a Dayton police officer violates that policy, “That officer will get disciplined,” he said.
Jessica Ramos, an attorney with Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, told the crowd she worried the policy change could empower “bad apple officers” to contact ICE.
When asked if Dayton would declare itself a sanctuary city, Joseph answered “the police policies we have right now are sufficient.”
The forum focused on three executive orders: one securing the border with a wall, among other things; one cracking down on “sanctuary cities”; and one halting refugee placement and people traveling from seven countries.
The long-term local impact of these measures is unclear, the attorneys said, because they are being fought in the courts.