On Oct. 30, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested two workers at the Casa Fiesta restaurant in Oberlin, Ohio. Two employees of the Casa Fiesta restaurant in Fremont and one employee of Casa Fiesta in Ashland were also taken into custody on Oct. 30, said ICE spokesperson Mike Gilhooly. It was the second raid at the local restaurant chain in less than 100 days; on July 23 ICE agents arrested 58 Mexican workers at eight Casa Fiesta restaurants in northern Ohio, including five workers at the restaurant in Oberlin. The Fremont and Ashland restaurants were also among those raided on July 23. (See INB, Aug. 10)
On Nov. 8, about 50 people held a candlelight vigil at Tappan Square in Oberlin to protest the latest raid; about 100 people attended a similar vigil in Oberlin following the July raid. La Alianza Latina, a nonprofit student group at Oberlin College, plans to form a rapid response team to stage peaceful protests and provide legal observation when raids happen, said the group’s secretary, Cindy Camacho. “People…should not have to be afraid in the place where they live and work,” said Camacho.
La Alianza Latina has been working with community leaders and the Immigrant Worker Project to draft a resolution proposing that the city of Oberlin establish a non-cooperation policy with federal immigration authorities. (Chronicle-Telegram, Elyria, Ohio, Nov. 8, 9) Oberlin’s Human Relations Commission has recommended that the city council adopt the resolution as law; City Manager Eric Norenberg said it would enable all Oberlin residents to seek help from the police or fire department without fear of being turned over to immigration officials. “If Immigration comes to town, the city and the police force would not assist them unless ordered to by law or the court,” Norenberg explained. “To me, it’s important that our city residents trust us.” (Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Nov. 13)
“Oberlin has an historic precedent for this,” said Mark Fahringer, chair of the Catholic Action Commission of Lorain County. “They stood up to the slave-hunters with the Oberlin Rescue because the city was part of the Underground Railroad. That’s the heritage we have here, and we have a responsibility to live up to it.” (Chronicle-Telegram, Nov. 9)