NKY Members Support Immigrant Rights | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

NKY Members Support Immigrant Rights

Two DACA students who shared their stories, and described how the immigration system impacts families

Northern Kentucky members of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth showed up to support ongoing work around immigrant rights in northern Kentucky. Working with Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center, the Northern Kentucky Justice and Peace Committee, the Immigrant Dignity Coalition, and the NKU Office of Latino Program and Services, they welcomed the Nuns on the Bus Ohio to NKU to deliver a presentation on immigration and issues surrounding immigration detention centers.

During the conversation there were two facts that stood out to many of the folks. The first was that ICE is the only law enforcement agency that has a quota for how many beds they must fill – 34,000 a night. This puts tremendous pressure on ICE to hold people for long periods of time, and means that a backlog in immigration courts helps the agency meet its quota. The demand also creates partnerships between ICE with local detention centers, private detention centers, and agreements with some local communities to have local law enforcement also enforce federal immigration laws.

Attendees were surprised to learn that the only immigration detention center in Kentucky is the Boone County Jail, which means that ICE raids last year, whether in Nicholasville, Newport, Florence, or elsewhere meant that people arrested were held in Boone County. Meanwhile, defendants hearings are held in person in Louisville. The entire process makes it hard for families to be there for their relatives.

For this reason, after the presentation at NKU, 50 people rallied in front of the Boone County Jail to bring attention to this issue. Speakers included local DACA students, Catholic nuns, and school administrators who have worked closely with DACA and undocumented students in the community. One woman, who lives in Cincinnati, shared that she was only to visit her brother at the detention center once before he was deported. Her brother, who had been working in the Lexington, left behind his American wife and 8 month old daughter. A daughter he last saw at 2 months old.

Another speaker, Jose Cabrera, shared how his mother raised him and his siblings as a single parent after his father chose to move back to Mexico. She struggled to bring, and keep, their family here to give them the best the possible wife, and how we need to fight not only for Dreamers, but for their whole families.

The northern Kentucky chapter is committed to continuing to support immigrant rights, and will remain a part of the Immigrant Dignity Coalition. They see this work as a key part of the chapter’s commitment to racial justice, and hope to work with immigrant communities to help raise the issues that most impact them in coming municipal and state legislative elections.