Panelist says immigration laws are needed but with more flexibility

YWCA sponsors ‘Life After Deportation’ event

By William K. Alcorn


Education, on both sides, is the key to eliminating immigration discord in America, panelists said Thursday as they discussed integration and deportation issues.

“The next step is to create more pathways for education and create more bridges for immigrants to be a part of their community,” said the Rev. Hery Salamanca, Hispanic outreach pastor at the First Christian Church in Salem.

From another perspective, immigrants have to be respectful and work hard to be a part of the community, said the Rev. Mr. Salamanca, speaking Thursday at the Youngstown YWCA’s panel discussion on “Life After Deportation.”

Other panel members were Lina Adi, daughter of downtown Youngstown business owner Al Adi who was deported in early 2018; and former state senator Joe Schiavoni.

The event was moderated by Alicia Prieto Langarica, associate professor of mathematics and statistics at Youngstown State University, and cosponsored by Mahoning Valley Sojourn to the Past and the Bitonte College of Health and Human Services at YSU.

After the August 2018 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid on the FreshMark plant in Salem, Mr. Salamanca worked with families and their children to help them integrate into the community.

He was effusive in his praise of the Salem community, particularly its school system, which has placed computers in homes with Hispanic children, several dozen of which he has taken under his wing and calls “his kids.”

“That doesn’t happen everywhere,” Mr. Salamanca said of the help and compassion of the school district.

“At government police level we have to deal with immigrants as human beings and build them up and help them,” said Schiavoni.

“We need to have rules on immigration that are sensible, but less rigid. When we have leaders at the top fueling fear on both sides, change is needed,” Schiavoni said.

Adi said her father, who is living in Jordan, is doing well and continuing his attempt to come back to the United States and Youngstown. “It’s kind of a waiting game, but he hasn’t given up,” she said.

Adi said she does not understand the U.S. immigration system.

She said her father owned several businesses and added to the rebirth of downtown Youngstown and paid taxes and still he was deported.

“We’re fighting to get Dad home by continuing to keep the conversation going and talk about immigration,” said Adi, who with her husband took over one of her father’s businesses, Penguin Auto Specialists.

She said one of the top issues she will consider when backing political candidates will be their stance on immigration and deportation.

“Since I was young it has been an ongoing issue. We had to go public, but I never expected him to go to jail. The issue is very close to me,” she said.

“I think the community has so many immigrants. I couldn’t imagine Youngstown without them. If all the immigrants were gone, what would be left ... probably an empty town.”

“I think of my dad as an immigrant. He just doesn’t have papers,” she said.

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