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Unsettled: A 'Dreamer's' View Of Painesville Since President Trump Took Office

A demonstration in support of immigrants and refugees held in Cleveland in May 2017. (Nick Castele / ideastream)

This week we’re talking about immigration, as part of the series Unsettled: Immigration in Ohio.  We’re using Painesville in Lake County as a starting point.  The city recently issued a policy to have police report arrests for certain crimes to immigration authorities.  This has drawn some strong backlash from activists, and the ACLU.  For one perspective we speak with Jose Ramon.

Jose Ramon: “I think it’s a little bit big deal, because a lot of people are getting all scared. Instead of driving their cars, they’re walking, or they’re just riding bikes.  I think it’s just kind of interesting, but that’s the reality now here in Painesville.  A lot of people think they’re gonna get stopped for no reason, they’re scared to go to work, go to the store, anything.”

Ramon graduated high school two years ago, and says he is here on account of DACA, or the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. 

Last week the Trump Administration said it wasn’t immediately eliminating the protections for so-called ‘Dreamers,’ but the future is still uncertain.

And Ramon says he’s seen a change in Painesville since the President took office.

Ramon: “Yes, I’ve seen a huge difference.  I heard a lot of stories that people were getting stopped by the police, asking for documentation.  They’re treating bad, I think that’s not fair for them.”

Ganzer: “And you, yourself, have you face increased, I don’t know, pressure around town, or do you feel nervous more than you did before?”

Ramon: “Yes, I feel really nervous when I go to the store. Like two weeks ago, there was two ladies that came up to me. They’re like, ‘Are you Hispanic? Why are you here for?’ I tell them that I was here to have a better life. And they’re asking me, ‘why, don’t come to bother our country.’  And I started telling them I’m not bothering you guys.”

Ganzer: “This just happened in a store?”

Ramon: “Yes, that was two weeks ago already.”

Ganzer: “You’re shopping in a store and somebody just randomly walks up to you and starts saying these things?”

Ramon: “Yes, they were like, ‘what are you doing here? Why are you in this country like that? Are you illegal to the country?’  I told them I had the permission—I didn’t give them too much details—but I told them I have the DACA. I don’t know why they asked to give them more information, I told them ‘you’re not the right person to be asking me those questions’ and I just walked away.”

Ganzer: “Had that ever happened to you before?”

Ramon: “No. That was the first time I heard from someone.  I think because all this stuff started going around since Trump came to president now.”

Ramon says his parents are undocumented, and even they’re nervous to drive to work, and are getting rides from friends to make sure things go smoothly.

And others in the community are even considering moving back to Mexico, or to another state. 

But Ramon says the attention that would bring, has left some people even too scared to move.

Find more parts of this series here.

Tony Ganzer has reported from Phoenix to Cairo, and was the host of 90.3's "All Things Considered." He was previously a correspondent with the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, covering issues like Swiss banks, Parliament, and refugees. He earned an M.A. in International Relations (University of Leicester); and a B.Sc. in Journalism (University of Idaho.) He speaks German, and a bit of French.