Business is booming at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center (NEOCC) in Youngstown, and that’s good news for some. The previously underutilized private prison now houses nearly 2,000 inmates, and the facility’s parent company, CoreCivic, is thriving. Locally, the increased prison population has boosted employment and tax revenues. But, this slice of economic security comes at a price.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced a four-year extension of its contract with CoreCivic early in 2017, just days after Donald Trump signed an executive order to increase deportations. While national news regarding the immigration debate tends to focus on border areas, particularly the border between the U.S. and Mexico, the heartland has deeply affected by the shift in immigration enforcement policy.
Michigan and Ohio Deportations of Non-Criminal Immigrants
In 2018, the Detroit Free Press reported a 117% year-over-year increase in the number of deportations of undocumented immigrants in Ohio and Michigan who did not have criminal records. During the same period, there was a 126% increase in ICE arrests of immigrants with no criminal histories. Though ICE says their objective is public safety, statistics provided to the Free Press by the spokesperson for the Michigan and Ohio branches of ICE aggregated those with criminal charges or convictions in with “immigration fugitives” and all of those who had re-entered the country illegally.
Overall, deportations in the Ohio / Michigan region increased by 36% year-over-year. And, according to Cleveland.com, the increase is much larger for those without criminal records than those who have been charged with a crime. From the fiscal year 2016 to fiscal year 2017, the number of people arrested who had previous criminal arrests or convictions increased from 1,745 to 2,308—a 32% increase. But, non-criminal arrests jumped from 476 to 1,101 in the same period—a 131% increase.
Increasingly, arrests have occurred when immigrants appeared voluntarily at government facilities for check-ins or appointments they thought would help further their efforts to attain legal status. Others have been arrested in settings historically considered off-limits, such as schools. And, long-time residents have been abruptly arrested although the federal government has known where they lived and worked for years (or even decades).
Deportations and Local Economies
While it’s easy to look at the NEOCC facility in Youngstown and see job creation and an increased tax base associated with a growing rate of non-criminal deportations, Ohio deportations often take a toll on local economies. When one member of a family is deported, leaving dependents who are U.S. citizens to fend for themselves, the burden on society increases. And, in some cases, the economic impact is much larger.
One of the highest profile examples is Amer Othman Adi, who was deported to Jordan in 2018. Adi legally entered the U.S. in 1979, at the age of 19. Ten years later, after Adi had divorced and remarried, Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) charged him with immigration fraud and revoked his green card.
For nearly 20 years, Adi fought the decision. All the while, he was building a life, a family, and local businesses. At the time of his deportation, Adi employed about 60 people.
Know Your Rights as an Immigrant
With Ohio deportations increasing and the focus shifting to law-abiding members of the community, it’s more important than ever to be informed. In some cases, little-known immigration options are available. If you’re attempting to secure a green card or fighting to keep a green card or concerned about the prospect of deportation, give yourself the advantage of a knowledgeable advocate. Talk to an experienced immigration lawyer.
The information presented in this post is not legal advice and does not form a lawyer/client relationship. Laws and circumstances can differ and change.
Please contact us for a personal review of your situation