What was originally conceived and billed as a public forum to discuss ICE resolutions
proposed by the Lake County commissioners 12 days ago, in essence, functioned as a rally against the adoption of those resolutions, as the event, held at Lake Erie College Aug. 13, drew an overwhelming percentage of opponents to the measures.
Only three persons voiced support for the resolutions — one supporting the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency and the other in favor of Congress enacting comprehensive immigration reform legislation. Both were tabled until the 10 a.m. Aug. 16 regular meeting. A written summary of the comments from the event will be submitted to the commissioners prior to the meeting.
Many attendees, in fact, voiced support for reform, but stated the issue as a whole isn’t within the purview of the commissioners.
If adopted, neither resolution would establish any legally enforceable requirements.
Lake Erie College did not plan the one-hour meeting, but agreed to serve as a nonpartisan sponsor and host for the event, in consultation with the League of Women Voters of Lake County. Brian Posler, professor of political science and president of the college, moderated the event.
“As an institution of higher education, our job is to facilitate meaningful discussion,” Posler said. “Colleges serve an important role in the public square where all ideas are considered. Our hope is for this forum to provide an opportunity for citizens to be educated on the topics in question and to have their voices heard.”
Painesville resident Lois Osborn spearheaded the event after a “public discourse” was suggested by all three commissioners during the Aug. 2 regular meeting.
However, Commissioner Jerry Cirino, who had a previous commitment but received reports of the content of the meeting at its conclusion, believes no such thing took place.
“This was not properly planned and did not reflect both sides,” Cirino said by phone shortly after the meeting. “I recall specifically that Ms. Osborn was told that it should be jointly organized by people from both sides of the issue and not by the commissioners or our office. Everyone who speaks at our meetings provides their name and address. That information was available to coordinate the ‘joint planning’ of the meeting.
“Ms. Osborn’s task was to plan a meeting of both sides of the issue, and that we would listen to a calm and intellectual view of both sides. She had ample time to plan this, eight days, and during that time, she contacted no one from the opposing side, on top of giving the commissioners very inadequate notice. This was a partisan rally, in support of those calling for either the elimination of ICE and/or non-cooperation of local authorities, and very inconsistent with the original discussion.”
Mentor resident Dave Lima opposes ICE and said a resolution in support is not the path to take, adding that unsound statistics issued to the public on multiple levels create hysteria and racism.
“It’s never been clearer that these are violations of human and civil rights,” he said. “We have refused to see the humanity of other people. These resolutions by the commissioners are not warranted or justified. The databases-related systems and information-sharing mechanisms that facilitate and enhance immigration enforcement are vast and complex, involving over 14 systems not including state systems or local criminal justice systems.
“These networks are available for data input by federal, state and local law enforcement officers with little accountability, oversight, restrictions or checks accuracy, the National Crime Information Center, for example. ICE supporters and ICE itself continue to use these flawed systems to promote false positives, to perpetuate fear-mongering.”
Conversely, David Bennett, also of Mentor, said he found it interesting that the majority of the attendees were “in favor of not enforcing laws.”
“Most of your parents came over here as immigrants, and I would suggest that most of them followed the law to get into this country, I know my grandparents did, and I’m fairly sure most of yours did. There are processes to come here legally and a lot of people choose not to do so. I would never think to cross into Canada or Mexico illegally, but we seem to be willing to allow people to break our laws. Where do we stop if nobody has to follow the law?”
Addressing the assembly for the only time, Commissioner Dan Troy said the commissioners have nothing to do with ICE, and that their collective duties lie elsewhere.
“I do not think we should pass the resolution one way or the other on ICE. The resolutions were proposed by my colleagues. Resolution 9 (reform) was really something that I proposed based on the fact that if my colleagues are intent on a passing a resolution on ICE, it has to be more palatable and a lot less inflammatory. I moved to table consideration for both (of those) resolutions.
“I respect the fact that there are people on both sides of this issue who feel strongly,” Troy said. “We need to start reaching common ground and coming together, that’s why we need comprehensive immigration reform and compromise. But I agree with most of you here, the Board of Lake County commissioners have no business weighing in on (the) Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency by resolution in our county, and I intend to continue that position.”
Cirino later mentioned that Troy, in 2005, voted to support the (Mexican) Matricula (Consular ID) cards. (The matricula consular is valuable in the United States only for illegal aliens, since legal immigrants, by definition, possess legal U.S. government-issued documents.)
“This is a commissioner supporting a political issue,” he said. “That’s a national immigration issue. But we can’t weigh in on these matters? Commissioner Hamercheck (who was also not in attendance) and I aren’t weighing in on these issues or policies with these resolutions, we’re supporting the law. We are supporting law enforcement, not national immigration policy. And I will never back down from doing so, whether it’s the sheriff’s office, local police, the DEA or ICE. I support the law.
“We were asked to consider ‘community input’ with this ‘forum’ request — we did and the opportunity’s been squandered.”