No ICE raids in Northeast Ohio yet but undocumented immigrants fear crackdown

Posted at 6:17 PM, Feb 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-16 18:36:48-05

Wait and see.

It's the new reality facing tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in our state.

Right now, raids are happening, as the Trump Administration tries to round-up those it says are putting our safety at risk.

There have been no Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids in Northeast Ohio, but fear of the possibility is prompting some people in Cleveland to make plans should they face deportation.

"They're going after normal people," said Jose Mendez.

Mendez tells News 5 he could soon be one of them. Mendez came to America illegally with his mom when he was 7-years old.

"We try to live day by day, right? But we still have that anxiety in the back of our head," said Mendez.

Now 24, he's living in Cleveland as a recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, also known as DACA.

"The DACA program has provided me with a social security number, a driver's license and a legal presence," said Mendez.

"The recipients do have to re-apply every two years, so nobody knows what's going to happen with the program," said Deb Kline, Cleveland Jobs With Justice Director.

Kline works on immigration issues as the director of Cleveland Jobs With Justice.

"I'm fearful for my friends who are undocumented, and I'm worried about them and what's going to happen to them," said Kline.

Her organization has been receiving numerous calls from our city's undocumented population.

"Undocumented people are here in Cleveland from all over the world. We have Eastern European people who are here that are undocumented, Jamaicans, Asians," said Kline.

Kline tells News 5 those with American-born children are especially concerned and are lining up care for their little ones just in case. As for those who say the children should go with their parents who are deported, Kline has a different opinion. 

"These are U.S. citizen children who have been born and raised and know no other country than this one and sending them back to another country is not acceptable," said Kline.

While he and his family are living in uncertain times, Mendez, who works as a security guard, said he supports the crackdown.

"It's okay to for the administration to go after criminals that have committed really serious felonies," said Mendez.

At this point, Mendez is looking to the federal government for clarity.

“I protect people. I contribute to the community. I pay my taxes," said Mendez.

The latest figures show Ohio is home to about 83,000 undocumented people. That’s out of 11.6M residents. It’s clearly a very, very small percentage.

However, Deb Kline said there are more in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County than you may think.

News 5 reached out to ICE officials multiple times to include them in this story we never heard back.