On August 6, 2017, Federated’s Social Justice and Advocacy Ministry (SJAM) learned about current issues for immigrants from Veronica Dahlberg, Executive Director of HOLA.
HOLA is a small, grassroots Latino organization in NE Ohio that focuses on advocacy, community organizing and civic engagement. HOLA works with immigrants to educate them about their rights and responsibilities. With a staff of one and a group of committed volunteers they have undertaken activities such as workshops on how to become a U.S. citizen, voter registration, leadership development and classes for entrepreneurs. The most exciting thing is their plan to have a building of their own in Painesville, which will include a commercial kitchen to help incubate small businesses in the food industry. They have secured initial funding.
For the past decade, HOLA has been involved with undocumented immigrants facing deportation as a result of our broken immigration system. HOLA volunteers meet with government officials to provide education and dialogue. They accompany immigrants to check-ins with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) and court hearings. HOLA supports families separated by deportation.
Currently HOLA has been at the forefront of advocating for undocumented immigrants facing deportation. Under the current administration, immigrants who have been here for decades, checking in regularly with authorities, working, owning businesses, raising families and contributing to their communities are now being deported. It is having a negative impact on families, communities and businesses. Two large, generations old, nurseries in Lake County have closed due to lack of workers. Other businesses are struggling in the face of losing long time, valued, skilled workers.
We as a country have failed to fix our broken immigration system. Although many politicians have given immigration reform and a path to citizenship lip service, our failure to do so is now on full display.
We will be learning more and finding ways to be allies to HOLA. HOLA speakers will present the program for the March Wondrous Wednesday (March 14, 2018).