Support for Lara grows

Matt Roche • Updated Jul 11, 2017 at 8:27 PM

The media continues to shine a spotlight on next Tuesday’s scheduled deportation of a Willard father of four.

A call for U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Holmes County) to intervene has proved fruitless thus far, however.

In fact, for the most part, Gibbs’ office has remained silent on the subject, despite media requests for comment and a petition signed by many constituents in the Willard portion of the 7th Congressional District, which Gibbs represents.

Jesus Lara’s four children, all U.S. citizens, launched the petition, hoping to stop his deportation. They and volunteers gathered 380 signatures in Willard on Saturday, the same day stories about Lara were published in the Reflector and Sandusky Register. The Plain Dealer published a lengthy narrative the following day, a story that is being republished in the July 11 issue of the Reflector.

An online petition drive, which asks Gibbs to be a “real champion for Jesus” and use his “power to help the Lara family and get ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to stop this deportation,” has exceeded 34,000 signatures, according to the web page. The goal is 40,000.

Gibbs, though, did not respond to interview requests from the Register or Plain Dealer.

Dallas Gerber, Gibbs’ communications director, provided this statement to the Reflector for Saturday’s story: “We cannot comment on any pending casework our office may or may not be working on.”

Gerber emailed the Reflector on Monday, requesting to discuss the Lara story. After the Reflector left phone and email messages, Gerber sent another email, questioning the newspaper about a “PR firm” involved in the Lara case, alleged “snarky comments” in the story and whether only Republicans are being interviewed.

The Reflector provided answers to each of Gerber’s questions and again asked for Gibbs’ stance on the Lara case and why multiple news outlets have said Gibbs was unavailable for comment. He also was asked about the petition drive.

Neither Gibbs nor Gerber responded before deadline.

But another federal lawmaker did respond to a media request.

“Tearing apart families who are working and paying taxes is not the way to fix our broken immigration system,” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) told the Reflector on Monday.

Brown supported the bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed the Senate in 2013 to increase border security and create a path to citizenship for those willing to work for it, according to Brown’s office.

His staff is aware of Lara’s situation and has been in touch with ICE about his case. Brown’s staff also met with Lopez at his request.

“These American children have a simple request for Rep. Gibbs. They want him to use his power to keep their family together,” said Lynn Tramonte, director of Ohio’s Voice, a state-based immigration project. “Instead, they’re getting evasive answers and a refusal to exercise leadership. Time is running out for the Lara family. These kids just want to continue growing up in a united family, with their father who plays a central part in their lives.

“Jesus owns his home, he is a taxpayer and a contributor to the Willard economy,” Tramonte added. “Sending him to Mexico next week would be a massive miscarriage of justice. The Department of Homeland Security has the authority to cancel this deportation; they have used it in the past, and can use it again today. The only question is whether they’re willing to do so — and whether Congressman Bob Gibbs is willing to demand it.”

Tramonte also wrote an opinion piece that appears on Page A-2 of July 11 issue.

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