Just hours before President Trump’s State of the Union called for big cuts in legal immigration and continuing crackdowns on undocumented immigrants, about a hundred people gathered across from Cleveland’s West Side Market to rally for immigrants and refugees.
The gathering included a phone call from a Youngstown businessman less than a day after his deportation to Jordan.
Though he was 6,000 miles away, 57-year-old Amer Adi passed through the crowd by way of his daughter’s cell phone, encouraging people to embrace the cause of young immigrants brought to the United States as children.
“For the people there I say keep the fight going," Adi said. "This fight is for a lot of people out there that are living fear.”
Adi had lived in the U.S. for nearly 40 years, and became a community leader in Youngstown. Last fall, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) ordered him deported, then later canceled plans he and his wife had to leave. They then arrested and imprisoned him before flying him to Jordan Monday night.
Dan McCarthy, a Cleveland State law student who attended the rally, says friends of his are living in fear of immigration raids.
"You would expect this in some dictatorial regime," McCarthy said. "But we hold ourselves up as a democracy and it’s frightening to see this be the current state of affairs."
Congressman Tim Ryan left his seat at the State of the Union vacant in honor of Adi and his family.
Nicole Borncrow brought her 5-year-old daughter Penelope. She says she wants to see pathways for citizenship for Dreamers and other people who are contributing to the U.S., and the issue has grown in importance to her over the last year.
“I think it was frightening but it didn’t quite hit home that we would be in the situation that we are today that families are actually being torn apart," Borncrow said. "So I think a lot has changed over the past year.”