Sister Andrea Koverman isn’t sure if the protests this week in front of county jails that house detained undocumented immigrants will make a difference in calling for reform of the county’s immigration system — but “it’s the right thing for us to do.”
Koverman is one of the Ohio Nuns of the Bus who today are wrapping up a four-day tour in various parts of Ohio and Northern Kentucky calling attention for the need for immigration reform in the United States. On Tuesday afternoon, they rallied in front of the Butler County Jail, which contracts with the U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hold undocumented immigrants for deportation.
“I don’t know if it will make a difference,” said Koverman, a member of the Sisters of Charity Cincinnati order.
Jose Cabrera, 23, of Cincinnati, a DACA recipient has been an activist for immigration reform since he was 13 years old. He came to the United States with his parents when he was 4 years old and is one of the hundreds of thousands of those receiving deferred action from deportation through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.
He said the public needs to ask itself, “What kind of society do we want to be?”
“We have generations of our country who have been known to incarcerate people trying to speak out and testing our idea of what is right and what is wrong,” Cabrera said.
But the public isn’t talking about the issues around the country’s immigration laws, and how it’s directly affecting people, he said.
“When we look at the people that are actually in these jails, and look at the families that are separated, and the conditions and how they’re being treated, we need to start talking about that,” said Cabrera, a Xavier University student majoring in entrepreneurship and minoring in justice and peace studies.
There are approximately 800,000 recipients of DACA, which allows some whose parents illegally brought them to the country as minors to receive a renewable two-year deferred action from deportation. Under DACA, they are also eligible for a work permit but do not have a path to citizenship.
The Trump Administration had begun attempts to phase out DACA, but Trump had considered a new DACA deal during congressional budget talks in January. It seems to be off the table for Congressional Republicans, but The Washington Post reported last week Trump is open to a short-term DACA deal.
Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones said this is just one of many groups that protest in front of his jail.
“The great thing about living in America is you can protest,” he said.
Jones did not go out to meet with Tuesday’s protesters.
As far as the ICE detainees held in his jail, he said, “It’s the law. ICE is enforcing the law in the United States, and we’re still a nation of laws.”
Today, the Ohio Nuns on the Bus tour will head to Columbus at 11 a.m. to meet and pray with Edith Espinal, a mother of three who applied for asylum but was denied.
At 3 p.m., they will be in front of the Morrow County Jail for a vigil that will feature prayer, songs and speakers.
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