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La Liga de Las Americas

Strickland campaign hits big brown bump

Ohio-governor hopeful encounters Latino opposition

By Rico de La Prensa


When U.S. Congressman Ted Strickland was preparing for the grand opening of his Cleveland campaign headquarters in his quest for Ohio governor, little did he realize that a vote he cast last December would come back to haunt him with Latino voters.

L-R: Lillian Williams, David L. Gutiérrez, Lee Fisher, Joe Santiago, Ted StricKland, Lupe Williams, and Richard Romero, taken by La Prensa at Strictland’s Cleveland Campaign Headquarters. 


The headquarters, located at Detroit Avenue and W. 25th Street, swelled by 5:00PM last Saturday, as Strickland was preparing for the May 2 Democratic primary. But many present were upset with his voting for the passage of the Sensenbrenner-King Bill (HR 4437), which contained many controversial, if not draconian, provisions for Latinos such as:


  • The erection of almost 700 miles of wall, separating the United States and México, whose border is almost 2,000 miles in length. Many Latinos liken this environmental encumbrance and barrier to the Berlin wall and question the argument that it is to counter “terrorism.” Many also queried, why was the Canadian and U.S. border omitted from the bill?

  •  The bill, if passed by the Senate, would make any person working, serving or employing any undocumented immigrant, a felon. This would include any organization that services migrants.

  • It would make local and state police immigration agents.

  •  The bill makes it more difficult for legal permanent residents to become U.S. citizens.

"Don't fence me"
Cartoon by Jorge Grosso of Miami, Florida

HR 4437 is currently before the U.S. Senate for consideration and was the reason that groups such as the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) and the Coalition of Latino Pastors of Northeast Ohio have been lobbying the Senators to deny what the groups believe to be radical provisions of the bill.


Last Thursday, Feb. 9, for example, FLOC representatives visited the offices of Senators George V. Voinovich and Mike DeWine in Cleveland, Toledo, Columbus, and Cincinnati and received a warm reception, according to Beatriz Maya of FLOC.  


Details of these sojourns can be read on page 7 of the Feb. 8, 2006 issue of La Prensa or on line at www.laprensa1.com. Anyone desiring to express their opposition to this bill, which is currently pending in the Senate, should send such a message to their Senators, as illustrated in the sample letter at page 9 of La Prensa.

Chris Redfern, Ohio Democratic Party Chair

On Saturday morning, Pastor Jesus Laboy of the Coalition of Latino Pastors of Northeast Ohio informed La Prensa that he helped organized “300-400 picketers in the Cleveland area to express opposition to Congressman Strickland’s support of the bill but that the congressman wanted to meet with the group to discussed the planned picketing.”


In a press release submitted by Pastor Laboy (of Elim Church) it was stated:


“The Coalition of Latino Pastors strongly objects to Rep. Strickland’s vote to approve the Sensenbrenner-King Bill….Strickland was one of only 16 democratic congressmen to approve the bill…[which] was opposed by all the major Latino civil rights groups in the country because of its devastating impact on Latino families and children, businesses and churches.” Groups in opposition include NCLR and LULAC. 


“He has disappointed us,” said Pastor Laboy, but “No Mas. No More. We will not be taken for granted anymore.”


The press release also cites Pastor Felix Muñiz of the Nueva Luz Church of the Nazarre as stating, “We are appalled that Rep. Strickland voted for this...[which] affects my congregation and the compassionate way we do ministry.”



The rally was suspended Saturday afternoon when Strickland assured the ministers that he was in the process of addressing this issue in the near future.


Latino Strickland supporters—including Richard Romero (Lorain), Jesse Taylor (Columbus), David L. Gutiérrez (Columbus), Lupe Williams (Wooster), and Lillian Williams—stated that they were surprised by this Strickland vote and that they have had discussions with the congressman concerning the harshness of many of the provisions of the bill and its unfair impact on Latino families. 

Margarita De Leon and Anita Lopez


Democrat Romero informed La Prensa that: “I believe the Democratic Party leaders do not have enough knowledge of the Hispanic/Latino community in Ohio. I was very disappointed to hear Ted Strickland supported HB 4437, but I was also glad that he had made a public announcement that his vote was a wrong vote. I believe Ted Strickland will make a great governor, and his running mate, Lee Fisher, has a good relationship with the Hispanic community.


“I am excited about our new party chairman, Chris Redfern, and his commitment to work with the Hispanic Democrats. I hope that soon the Democratic Party will allow me and other leaders of the Hispanic Community to put forth an agenda that will address the issues and needs concerning the Hispanic/Latino Community of Ohio. I hope that all statewide candidates, who are seeking the Latino vote, will bring on Latinos as part of their paid staff when trying to secure their vote.”


Strickland Campaign officials assured La Prensa that Strickland’s position on theses issues would be carefully reviewed and clarified in a subsequent statement.


The Lucas County Latino Caucus

Opposition to HR4437 was the topic of discussion at the monthly meeting of the Lucas County Democratic Hispanic/Latino Caucus which met Saturday morning at Democratic Headquarters in Toledo. A letter by its president, Danny Contreras, was being mailed to Strickland setting forth the group’s opposition to the bill.

Attorney Ben Konop, Democratic candidate for Lucas County Commissioner, addressed the Caucus and stated that he opposed HR 4437 and would have voted against it if he had been successful in his quest against U.S. Congressman Mike Oxley.


Konop also went on record as supporting the use in Lucas County of the matricula consular (Mexican ID cards), which was supported by Lucas County Commissioners Tina Skeldon-Wozniak and Pete Gerken, but opposed by Commissioner Maggie Thurber


Now that Eric Fingerhut has withdrawn from this race, one wonders what impact the Strickland vote on the passage of HR 4437 will have upon his chances of success in November—Strickland is all but assured of the nomination in May.


In other activity, Lucas County Recorder Anita López is circulating petitions to run for Lucas County Auditor after the incumbent Republican has elected to run for a judgeship.






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